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OPPY Award Winner 2000, Pat Bearden & Yolanda Simmons

Pat Bearden and Yolanda Simmons are multicultural human relations specialists who focus on integrating the study of family history into the school curriculum. Together they have 44 years of teaching experience in the Chicago Public Schools as well as innumerable honors and awards. They have even more years together as sisters.

Pat spent many years teaching third grade at the Ralph H. Metcalfe Magnet School while Yolanda spent most of her teaching career at the Dr. Martin Luther King High School. Pat received the Golden Apple Teacher Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1991. Yolanda received the Superior Public Service Award for Outstanding Educator from the City of Chicago in 1990, was the recipient of the Wilbur Hatfield Award for Outstanding Teacher of English from Chicago State University and a Golden Apple Finalist.

After receiving a Teacher Incentive Grant from the Oppenheimer Family Foundation in 1991 for the project entitled, “It’s a Cultural Thang,” they developed and implemented a Family History Project Curriculum in several schools, touching the lives of many CPS students and their families.

Yolanda is currently a professional development coordinator for the Center for City schools of National-Louis University. Pat is the administrator of a grant the sisters received from the State of Illinois to institute the International Society of Sons and Daughters of Slave Ancestry, a lineage society they established to celebrate, research, document, publish and preserve slave genealogy and oral histories, and advocate for the inclusion of family history studies into the core curriculum of the nation’s public schools.

Finally, the sisters’ book, “History Comes Home: Family Stories Across the Curriculum,” was recently published with the encouragement and support of the Oppenheimer Family Foundation. Go Girls!