Tag: Northern Illinois University

Former Panther Standout Jamaal Payton Savoring Chance to Shine


Jamaal Payton during a recent practice for the NIU Huskies. | Photo by niuhuskies.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Former Proviso West standout Jamaal Payton is savoring the opportunity to prove himself this Saturday, when he’ll start at middle linebacker for the Northern Illinois University Huskies in their season opener against Wyoming, according to DeKalb’s Daily Chronicle.

Payton, a senior, had been a reserve for the last three seasons, playing behind a decorated veteran. Before his scheduled start on Saturday, Patyon, the Chronicle notes, had started three other times at NIU.

Now, this season is all about him.

“It feels great, man. A long time coming,” Payton, who graduated from West in 2013, told the Chronicle.

“It’s something I’ve been prepared for and something that I’ve been mentally preparing myself for throughout the years.”

Payton told the paper that the process of getting to starting linebacker was hard, but within the struggle was wrapped a life lesson.

“think it taught me a lot of things about my character and how to deal with myself and things that will prepare me for life,” he said.

To read the full Chronicle article on Payton, click here. And now, a local high school football briefing:

Provisos East and West lose home openers

The Proviso East football team lost its home opener against visiting Maine West 14-0 last Saturday. The Daily Herald reports that the visitors won the game on defense:

“I think we can do some great things with this team this year,” said Warriors defensive end Malik Siem. “We need to keep our focus. We won today because we did our job on defense. My job today was to fend off the offensive tackle and keep the running backs pinned inside.”

You can read recaps of that game here and here.

Last Friday, the Proviso West football team lost its home opener against Lincoln-Way West 30-8, in a game that Herald-News writer Tim Cronin described as sloppily played on the part of the visiting team. Read Cronin’s recap of that game here. VFP

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A Golden Apple Teaching Scholar Hones Skills in Maywood’s Quinn Center


Jamal Murphy, right, completed his Golden Apple Scholars training at Quinn Community Center in Maywood over the summer. The program college students who aspire to be teachers with communities of need. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal 


Monday, August 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Jamal Murphy, who attends Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, hopes one day to inspire his students the way his 5th-grade teacher inspired him.

“In the 3rd and 4th grades, I fought and I never really cared about school,” Murphy, 21, said during an interview earlier this summer inside of the Quinn Community Center, 1851 S. 9th Ave. in Maywood.

“In 5th grade, a teacher got me involved in extracurricular activities and off the street,” said Murphy, a Chicago native.

That teacher, Murphy said, changed the trajectory of his life. And now that his path is set, it’s a matter of making the road a bit smoother.

Enter Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois, a scholarship program designed to provide intense training to aspiring teachers throughout their college career and particularly within high-needs learning environments.

Scholars typically spend three summers with the program while in college and receive numerous benefits, such as tuition support, stipends, mentoring from Golden Apple teachers and job placement assistance. In exchange for all of that, scholars agree to teach at least five years in a school in Illinois where at least 33 percent of students come from low-income households.

“The program is very intense,” said Mary Farmer, the director of Golden Apple’s Summer Institute at Dominican University, one of the program’s partner sites where scholars take courses.

“You have classes that you might not necessarily receive in your preparation at university,” she said. “We base (instruction) on what we consider are areas of improvement in first- and second-year teachers.”

“When they first come into the program, when they’re seniors in high school and going into their freshman year in college, they’re working with teachers in summer schools and getting that experience of being in the classroom,” said Damon Ehrett, a 25-year-old teacher from downstate Illinois and himself a former Golden Apple scholar.

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“By the third year, they’re completely in charge of leading a classroom and creating lesson plans and curriculum,” he said. “They get to do this as incoming college juniors, when most education students haven’t even started student teaching yet. So, they get a huge advantage.”

Murphy, whose family lives in West Garfield Park, finished out his third summer as a Golden Apple scholar at Quinn, which services a population of young people similar to those he grew up with on Chicago’s West Side.

Scholars and program administrators touted the Golden Apple program’s ability to foster diversity among the budding teachers and students with whom they’re paired.

Ehrett said he spent his first summer as a scholar at two elementary schools in Chicago. He said the program exposed him to the kind of cultural and economic diversity that’s relatively absent in central Illinois.

“Being in those different communities was eye-opening,” Ehrett said. “I don’t think I’d have gotten that experience without a program like this.”

For Murphy, who said he realized he wanted to be a teacher by chance while in high school, the experience has given him a way to connect with students who are, in some ways, mirror images of the kid he was before his 5th-grade teacher seized him and steered him to his potential.

“One day, when I was in high school, the teacher was going around the room asking everyone what they wanted to do in college,” Murphy recalled.

“I kept hearing things like engineer, accountant and all these things,” he said. “I had two options — motivational speaker and teacher. I told myself, ‘I don’t want to be the typical Steve Harvey dude.’ And that’s when I said teacher.”

Murphy said after announcing his ambitions, the teacher, who was a mentor of his, encouraged him to apply for the Golden Apple Scholar program. Initially, he said, he was turned off by the rigorous application process and the amount of essay writing it required. After some nudging by his peers, though, he eventually applied.

Now, his career aspirations have come into even clearer focus. He wants to become a school district superintendent one day. When asked to envision himself superintendent of a local school district and to name some policies or ideas he’d want implemented, Murphy perked up, obviously charmed by the possibility.

“I think one thing (any administrator needs) is to have an understanding (with students),” he said.

“You can read or talk about it, but I grew up in it. I was one of those kids. I’d know if they’re not eating or if something is going on at the house. Just being there for the students and showing that, ‘Okay, I’m accountable for you guys’ (is important). It’s not just me against you all. It’s us as a community.” VFP

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85-Year-Old Maywood Native, Korean War Vet Finally Gets His Diploma | Former Pirate’s Film To Make TV Debut

Gus NIU Grad

Robert “Gus” Trantham, 85, finally walked across the stage to receive his diploma, 63 years after completing his bachelor’s degree. Below: Trantham’s year book photo. | Courtesy Northern Illinois University  

Gus Northern year book photoFriday, May 20, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

In 1952, a young Robert “Gus” Trantham was poised to graduate from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s in education when he was abruptly called to serve on the USS Toucan during the Korean War.

“I know his parents came out here and saw the graduation, but he wasn’t in it,” said his wife Fran. “They knew nobody. That was a very tearful time.”

At the ceremony on May 30, 1953, Trantham’s parents picked up his diploma in their son’s stead — a bittersweet culmination of a lifelong ambition.

“I was a poor boy from Maywood, Illinois and I always wanted to go away to college,” said Trantham in a video published by Northern Illinois.

“I wanted to do it,” Trantham told the Daily Chronicle, referencing a bookend to that ambition — walking across that graduation stage. “I never really had a graduation.”

The veteran finally took the walk earlier this month in front of 25 family members, who traveled to DeKalb from Charleston, South Carolina, according to Chronicle. One daughter told the paper that she’d bene “saving money for a year to pay for airline tickets.”

“To have somebody come back and say, ‘I was not able to be here on an important day in my life …,’ is a tremendous compliment to Northern Illinois University,’ a university official told the paper.

But Gus, who would go on to become an entrepreneur, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m always a Huskie,” he said in the school’s video production. “Huskie born, Huskie bred!”

Watch the video in which Trantham talks about finally receiving his diploma here.

‘College Week,’ documentary film directed by Proviso East alum Derek Grace, to premiere on World Channel  

Grace filmmaker

Filmmaker Derek Grace, a Proviso East alum and Maywood native, discusses his documentary film “College Week,” during a screening last August. | Igor Studenkov/Wednesday Journal

Accomplished filmmaker and Proviso East High School alum Derek Grace’s documentary “College Week,” which captures a West Side school’s commitments to provide learning opportunities for its students, will make its debut premier on World Channel on Tuesday, June 7, at 8 p.m.

The film’s television debut is part of the fourth season of a new documentary series called America Reframed, hosted by Natasha Del Toro.

“For elite charter and public school in affluent Chicagoland communities, College Week is perceived as a customary practice, but in poor communities like Austin, schools more often serve as incubators for the ‘school-to-prison pipeline,’” according to a statement by World Channel and American Documentary, Inc., which co-produced the America Reframed documentary series.

“This film honors the values that my late father passed onto to me,” said Grace, a native of Maywood. “He firmly believed that education is the way out of poverty. In the lives of these children, the steadfast support and confidence from just one teacher may be the sustenance needed to carry them through in academia and life.”

For local listings, click here. VFP

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