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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 18, 2003

UI Education Alumnus Named Award Recipient, Mentor

Rockford, Ill. teachers will have a new mentor this fall in University of Iowa College of Education alumnus Brian Sewell, a physical education specialist at Walker Elementary School in Rockford.

Sewell, who graduated from the UI in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and exercise science, was one of five recipients this year of the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford's annual Golden Apple Award, which recognizes outstanding teaching in Rockford public school classrooms.

The award carries a scholarship worth about $2,000 to Rockford College, $1,000 in computer software for the recipients' schools, $150 for professional development, a digital camera and a cash award. Winners are also inducted automatically into the non-profit organization's Golden Apple Teacher Academy, whose mission is to encourage and promote a positive, ongoing relationship between the Rockford community and its schools to support teaching and learning.

A former student of Sewell's who now attends West Middle School in Rockford nominated Sewell. The Golden Apple Award committee, composed of Rockford community members, used several criteria to select winners from among the 20 finalists, including classroom observations, letters of recommendation and individual interviews.

Sewell, who in addition to his UI degree holds a master's degree in elementary education from National-Louis University, is an 18-year teaching veteran. As a physical education specialist, he says he believes it's important to develop children mentally as well as physically, and he works to promote an environment that is as inviting as possible for children with varying degrees of ability.

"Becoming a physical education teacher was a natural choice for me," Sewell said when accepting the award in March. "I chose physical education because of my love of sports and physical fitness, and my desire to make physical education a fun and non-threatening experience. An experience that would develop physically active adults."

As Golden Apple Teacher Academy members, Sewell and his fellow academy members this fall will provide sessions on classroom management to elementary and secondary teachers new to the Rockford School District. Additionally, academy teachers will provide new teachers with one-on-one mentoring and monthly supportive and educational workshops. Workshop topics will include classroom management strategies and support, parent contacts and conferences, curriculum mapping, technology in the classroom and accessing support services in the district.

The mentoring by the Golden Apple Academy teachers is intended to help prepare new teachers for the classroom and increase retention of promising educators. Studies have shown that the first year of employment is a crucial determining factor in a teachers' decision to stay with the profession and assigned school.

Two other UI College of Education alumni, 1993 alumna Marcy Ring and 1997 alumna Meghan M. Sweet, were selected as finalists earlier this year for an Award for Excellence in Teaching provided by the similarly named but unrelated Golden Apple Foundation of Chicago. Ring and Sweet, both elementary education graduates, were not among that organization's 10 winners.

In the Rockford area, Golden Apples have been awarded since spring 1997, the first year under the auspices of the Community Education Foundation of Rockford and in subsequent years by the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford. Since 1997, 115 teachers have been inducted into the Golden Apple Teacher Academy.

For more information about the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford, visit

For more information about the Golden Apple Foundation based in Chicago, visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,