Like many aspiring teachers, Elmhurst College sophomore Geoffrey Rozo can trace his inspiration to one very special educator.
At Maine West High School in Des Plaines, “I had a really great calculus teacher, Mr. (Brian) Muscia,” he said. “He really made the subject fun and interesting.”
Rozo was inspired by Muscia’s passion, dedication and desire to see his students succeed.
Now Rozo, a mathematics and secondary education major, has been named one of Illinois’ 2016 Golden Apple Scholars by the nonprofit Golden Apple Foundation, which works to inspire, develop and support teacher excellence in Illinois, especially in “schools of need.” Scholars will be inducted in a ceremony on May 14 at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. Previous Golden Apple Scholars from Elmhurst include Jaclyn Pearson ‘15, who currently teaches elementary school in Norridge, Illinois.
The foundation’s $5,000 annual scholarship is wonderful, Rozo said, but he’s really excited about being able to attend the paid summer institutes, which will give him extensive classroom work experience while he still is a student, job placement assistance when he graduates, and mentoring from award-winning teachers that will continue through his early years in the classroom.
“Who wouldn’t want that much support and commitment?” he said.
In return, he will commit to spending five years teaching in schools with economic need (30 percent or more of the students on free or reduced lunch plans) or academic need (60 percent or fewer students approach, meet or exceed state standards).
Theresa Robinson, Elmhurst’s director of secondary education, said she was impressed with Rozo’s intelligence and thoughtfulness in an introductory course she taught last year. Rozo’s “writing showed a deep level of understanding . . . a willingness to address issues that some find hard to talk about,” she said.
“I wasn’t surprised when I heard he was named a Golden Apple Scholar,” she said. “I think he’s going to grow through the program.”
Rozo will student teach this summer at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, “getting experience right from the start.”
That experience is key for Rozo, who admits to having one specific goal in mind when he becomes a high school math teacher.
“I want to be Mr. Muscia for my students,” he said.