Taft High School art teacher Jennifer Trejo receives Golden Apple Award; she stresses importance of listening to students and helping them be creative problem solvers
by BRIAN NADIG
Moments after winning the 2022 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, Taft High School art teacher Jennifer Trejo said that her classes are intended to help students become creative problem solvers no matter the career they choose.
“I think we do really amazing things (at Taft),” Trejo said, recalling how she had good art teachers when she was growing up.
“This is the Academy Award of teaching. It’s a big deal,” Taft principal Mark Grishaber said shorty before he, state Senator Robert Martwick, Golden Apple Foundation officials and school cheerleaders entered Trejo’s class Monday morning, May 2, and surprised her with the news.
Martwick thanked Trejo for making Taft “the best neighborhood school in the city” and presented her with a gift, and foundation president Alan Mather said that Trejo was selected for many factors, including helping to expand the school’s Advancement Placement art program.
The foundation chooses 10 teachers throughout the state each year, and winners receive a $5,000 cash award and go on a sabbatical, which allows them to help advance the field of teaching. “They help prepare the next generation of teachers,” Mather said.
Trejo said that she hopes the skills which her students learn help them throughout their lives.
“I hope my students learn to trust their vision and be creative problem solvers in whatever field they find themselves in,” she said in a Chicago Public Schools statement after becoming a finalist for the award earlier this year. “When you have an idea, a lot of times being successful comes from simply visualizing it and starting to make it one way or another.”
Trejo also explained her teaching philosophy. “It’s important to read between the lines when your students are talking to you but don’t make assumptions because you’re almost always wrong,” she said.
“Listening to your students is crucial because the connections you form with them are the most important part of the job and make teaching extremely fulfilling.”
The foundation also honors one or two principals each year for their leadership. One of the foundation’s goals is to address the teacher shortage.