Ryan Dolan, an English teacher at Foreman High School, received the 13th annual Allan Wardell Inspiration Award from the Chicago Teacher's Union ( CTU ) LGBT Rights Committee. The award ceremony took place at CTU's executive board meeting June 2.
Following introductory remarks from CTU President Karen Lewis, Mel Ferrand, chairperson of the LGBT Rights Committee, presented Dolan with his award.
"This award honors a CTU member who has done something outstanding during the year to make their school safe and welcoming to members of the LGBT community and this year's winner, Ryan Dolan, holds the distinction of being nominated for his work by four teachers, three of which are his colleagues at Foreman," said Ferrand.
Wardell, whom this award memorializes, was a Chicago teacher, CTU member, and LGBT activist.
For the past two years, Dolan has been the co-facilitator of his school's gay-straight alliance ( GSA ) and served as the host for this year's "Nocturnal Wonderland" LGBT prom that was held at Foreman. Nolan also serves as the Freshman English Course Team Lead, is the co-facilitator of Peer Health Educators ( which promotes safe sex practices ), and is a Service Learning Coach.
"I am so honored to have been nominated for this award by my brilliant, hardworking peers at Foreman High School," said Dolan upon receiving his award. "Their opinion of my work is truly encouraging as I know them to be diligent in the integrity of the practice of teaching. I'm encouraged to pursue further the assurance of a safe and nurturing learning/working environment for all LGBTQ identified people at Chicago Public Schools."
"LGBT acceptance has grown at our school due to Ryan's efforts over the past two years and he has done more than any other teacher or teachers combined in our school's history to foster an inclusive environment for all students," said fellow Foreman art teacher and nominator Audrey Olson.
"Ryan is a truly inspirational teacher, sponsor, and coach and due to his hard work and efforts we have accomplished some truly amazing things this year especially the CPS LGBT prom," said fellow Foreman English teacher and nominator Gina Lozano. "He is a kind and compassionate person, teacher, and friend who makes a very dedicated and conscience effort to create a safe and welcoming environment for the students here at Foreman."
"His tireless efforts to promote acceptance and equity at his school is admirable. I applaud Ryan's courage to educate kids on safe sex as well as sponsor events and after school activities that create a safe environment for teens who are marginalized and bullied. Ryan has made great changes at Foreman that have built a community [that] no mandated Positive Behavior Intervention System ever could," said former Foreman librarian and current elementary school librarian ( and nominator ) Emily Oddo.
Note: Carrie Maxwell is also a member of the CTU LGBT Rights Committee.