DANVILLE — For as long as she can remember, Dominique Billips always wanted to be a teacher.
“We used to play school all the time,” Dominique’s grandpa, Curtis Cryer, shared.
“She loves school,” her mother, Deidre Billips, said.
The 17-year-old is now well on her way to becoming a teacher after finding out that she is one of 135 students statewide to be selected as a Class of 2013 Illinois Golden Apple Scholar.
“We’re so proud of her,” said Dominique’s grandma, Joe A. Billips.
The Golden Apple Scholar of Illinois is a highly competitive program that seeks the best and brightest of Illinois youth interested in a teaching career.
Those selected receive advanced teacher preparation through summer institutes that give students early practice and exposure to the art of teaching and financial assistance for college.
As an Illinois Golden Apple Scholar, Dominique will receive money to offset her college expenses as well as the opportunity to teach summer school before entering college.
Dominique said her summer school assignment through DeVry University in Chicago will be “helping out in the Chicago Public Schools during summer school.”
The early Danville High School graduate, however, already has had a taste of teaching in a first-grade classroom. “I helped out at Cannon School between October and January, and I still go and volunteer.
“I read with the kids, especially with the kids who were struggling with reading,” she said. “They would just light up.
“I would like to work with younger kids in kindergarten through sixth grade, and get certification to teach middle school and high school,” she said.
More than 1,200 nominations were received for this year’s competitive Golden Apple Scholar program, which awards financial assistance during the course of the scholar’s college tenure. The scholar receives $2,500 each year of his or her freshman and sophomore years of college and $5,000 each year of their junior and senior years.