The Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation and the James A. Gates Scholarship committee selected Stephanie Suerth as the recipient of the 2019 James A. Gates Oak Park District 97 Teacher Scholarship. Suerth, who is a French teacher at Brooks Middle School, was chosen from a field of outstanding applicants based, in part, on the following response she gave to a question about how her teaching (style and subtance) affects her students.
"Teaching French has provided me with a lot of opportunities to talk to students about language and culture. It has helped my students really evaluate their own experiences and compare and contrast them to those of other people, leading to more understanding and tolerance for the points of view of other people and groups of people. I believe I am a positive role model for my students in teaching them to have an open mind and be more globally minded citizens. When students enter my classroom, they experience a safe and inviting environment in which they can be themselves, and experience new things. We discuss their questions and ponderings about various aspects of culture openly and without judgment. Students can express themselves through the target language, and this helps them to shape their self-images and understanding of their place in the school and in the world."
The James A. Gates Scholarship is a one-time, $1,300 award directed toward offsetting an educational student loan. Eligible applicants must be current, full-time employees of District 97 who are in their first or second year of teaching in the district.