Top of Page

Chicago Public Schools Proud to Celebrate Two Finalists for Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Leadership

23 February 2022

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) proudly announces that Principals Yalil Nieves and Michael Kuran are finalists for the prestigious Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Leadership. Principal Nieves leads Mary Gage Peterson Elementary and Principal Kuran oversees the Chicago Math and Science Academy and they are among six school leaders from across the state who were named Tuesday as finalists in honor of founding Golden Apple Board Member Stanley C. Golder.

“Our principals, just like our teachers, have worked extraordinarily hard during the past two years as we have navigated this pandemic,” said CPS CEO Pedro Martinez. “We are extremely proud of these two instructional leaders who have successfully guided their students and staff to provide safe, welcoming and rigorous teaching and learning environments.”

Nieves and Kuran were selected as finalists from more than 100 nominated Pre-K-12th grade school leaders.

The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership honors exemplary performance in school leadership by a principal or head of school who has had a significant and sustained positive impact on the school, created a culture of inclusivity, and delivered dramatic student growth.

“Transformative school leaders like the finalists we are recognizing today affirm, challenge, and support teachers and students,” said Alan Mather, President of Golden Apple. “These school leaders have not only guided their school communities during the most trying of times, they have also empowered  teachers and students to thrive. We recognize their leadership, resilience, and commitment to success that elevated those they serve.”

“Leadership matters. Highly effective school leaders design a culture of high expectations for their school communities and facilitate the integration of resources necessary to foster excellence,” said Alicia Winckler, CEO of Golden Apple. “Our 2022 finalists have delivered a culture of high expectations and sustained growth for their school communities; and, we are proud to honor them.”

The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership recipients receive a cash award of $10,000, with $5,000 for the school leader and $5,000 for the school for a project of the recipient’s choosing. Award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who play an important role in preparing the next generation of teachers in the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators programs - which are dedicated to addressing the teacher shortage in Illinois.

Earlier this year, CPS featured Principal Nieves, who attended CPS schools herself after her family arrived in Chicago from Panama. She was inspired to go into teaching by those educators who led the bilingual program she entered in sixth grade.

“Teachers believing in my voice changed my entire life, and that gives me the comfort to know that I don’t need to have all the answers or a solution for everything, even as a principal, “Nieves said. “Instead, I can create spaces that give a voice to my students to empower the community that we serve. “

Mr. Kuran, a CPS principal at the CMSA charter school for the past seven years, said he was surprised, honored and humbled to learn the news that he is a finalist.

“As the principal, I am in the front, I am the face of the school,” Kuran said. “But it’s not me - it’s the great work of our students and staff. I call my students the `stars’ of the year and my teachers the `heroes’ of the year. They are the ones making all these things happen.”

Tuesday’s announcement follows news last week that 13 CPS teachers were named as finalists for the prestigious Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching. For more information, see our Feb. 17 press release. The selected 2022 Golden Apple Award recipients will be surprised by the Foundation and their respective districts in the spring.

# # #