Community Spotlight: Chicago Muslim Teacher Wins Prestigious “Golden Apple” Award
By Sandy Abdallah
May 12, 2008
CAIR-Chicago congratulates Samina Khan, a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools for winning the highly prestigious Golden Apple Award this month from among 850 other nominees.
Khan was surprised with the exciting news in her classroom while in the midst of a lesson on Tuesday, May 6, 2008. “I keep asking friends to pinch me, it’s wonderful,” Khan told CAIR-Chicago.
The Golden Apple Awards are awarded to elementary school educators who demonstrate an excellence in teaching. The Golden Apple is dedicated to the conviction that every child deserves an excellent teacher. Khan, an elementary school science teacher at Clark Magnet School, is among the ten winners chosen out of 850 teachers from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties. Winners receive a paid sabbatical to study tuition-free at Northwestern University, a laptop computer, $3,000, induction into the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, and recognition in September on a one-hour TV special.
Shaping Young Leaders
“We are honored to have leaders such as Khan in our community, who work with youth on a daily basis, have the opportunity to reach out, inspire, and guide the future leaders of tomorrow,” said CAIR-Chicago Outreach Coordinator Gerald Hankerson.
“…I am endeavoring to help my students to discover their voices and to empower them to realize their potential,” said Khan about her work. “I am trying to shape a personality equipped with high moral character and values like truth, goodness, compassion, care, integrity, so that they can lead a worthwhile and useful life serving themselves, their families, communities, country & the world at large.”
The principal of the Clark Magnet School, Dr. Henry West, nominated Khan for dedication, hands-on activity, and innovative teaching methodologies.
“To be appreciated makes me work harder for my community and my students,” Khan told CAIR-Chicago.
Honored for Dedication
Khan was one of 50 candidates recruited by the Chicago Public Schools through the Global Educators Outreach (GEO) program from thousands of applicants spanning 23 countries.
Khan has also been nominated by her co-workers and school authorities for several other awards over the last four years. She earned the Drive award in 2006 and was awarded the Com-Ed100 award in 2004.
Khan says she is the first Muslim to win the Golden Apple Award and attributes her success to “the blessings of the Almighty,” as well as “the support of her family, the school authorities, and the cooperation of her colleges, and dedication of the students which have helped her achieve her goals.”
Khan holds a Masters in education with distinction from DePaul University. She was born in Ethiopia, to Indian parents, and grew up in Nigeria. Khan received her Bachelors in Microbiology from Kaduna Polytechnic, West Africa’s largest and most prestigious institution of higher learning. Upon coming to the United States about eleven years ago, Khan enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse and later transferred to Northeastern Illinois University, where she worked on her Masters degree in Biology. She speaks four languages: English, Hausa, Urdu/Hindi and Punjabi.
Vision and Passion Yield Results
Khan’s dedication and commitment to education are reflected in her work. “Teaching is not a profession but a passion for me. The world has become a village and life highly competitive and complex,” said Khan.
As a result of her teaching, Khan’s students have steadily improved their Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) scores.
In 2006, two of Khan’s students participated in the ComEd 100 black star project. Amongst 2000 applicants, one of the students won a $2,500.00 savings bond and the other a laptop. Throughout the past six years, many of Khan’s students have won trophies, certificates and awards for their accomplishments, particularly in science. Khan annually coordinates the school science fair and many of the students who participate in the school science fair regularly proceed to the regional and city science fair.
“I am wedded to the cause of education and producing a generation of life-long learners who will not only believe in integrity, commitment, patriotism, honesty, and a passion for inquiry and analysis, but will walk the talk also,” said Khan.