Knowledge Builder Award

Kathleen Molenhouse, Annie Keller Regional Gifted Center

Kathleen Molenhouse holds fond memories, as a child, of her parents sharing the importance of education and ingraining in her that a good education provides for a better way of life. Her parents would make learning an adventure by taking family vacations and including visits to local museums and historical sites. Today, she and her husband continue this tradition and take every opportunity to create similar learning experiences for their children during their own family visits and vacations with their 4 children.

Kathleen has invested more than 15 years as an educator to continue sharing the importance of education for her community – just as her parents had done for her. She knew at a very young age that she wanted to be an educator, and her 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Weber, helped her realize that dream. She was “very enthusiastic and passionate about teaching,” she states. Mrs. Weber fueled her fondness and love for science that translated into a passion for learning how things work and function.

Currently, Kathleen is the Science Specialist for grades 5th – 8th at Annie Keller Regional Gifted Center in the Mount Greenwood community of Southside Chicago. The mission of Annie Keller Regional Gifted Center is to ensure that all students are provided a differentiated, accelerated, and gifted curriculum, which emphasizes Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and Social Science with the integration of technology and leadership development as part of our goal for students to become globally competitive.  Science is her favorite subject to teach because she enjoys encouraging her students to learn biology, mix chemicals and build roller coasters. Every day, her students make discoveries through their own inquiry and “the most rewarding sight is the smile on the face of a student who ‘gets’ it!” She encourages her students to not only be involved with Science but STEM as a whole, and she puts this belief into action by showing her students the connections between her classroom work and how it applies in the real world.

As a STEM advocate for the Annie Keller community, Kathleen brings monthly programs which showcase advancements in STEM, and has partnered with Illinois Math and Science Academy to receive a certificate for hands-on activities and even coaches Lego Robotics. She also leads her campus’ partnership with our Viva Technology™ program and the Motorola Solutions Foundation. Through this partnership we are able to host the Viva Technology™ Program for parents, educators and students – we are currently going on 11 years! She also plans on leading an extra-curricular engineering class for young girls and will be incorporating Computer Science into the existing curriculum in the near future. This is probably a contributing factor to Annie Keller’s recognition as the #1 Middle School by the Chicago Sun Times’ Top 50 rankings of 2014.

Kathleen Molenhouse received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois- Champaign/Urbana and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education at the Governor State University. She shares her passion for teaching and learning extends beyond the classroom as she is an avid reader and enjoys gardening, biking and spending quality time with her family.

About the Award

The iCON Knowledge Builder Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates exemplary teaching at the Grades K-12 level, and who has positively impacted students’ understanding of biotechnology’s promise and challenges. This educator also serves as a model for colleagues on how to incorporate biotechnology into the classroom and acts as a resource to peers.


Previous Winners:

2015: Taylor Fusinatto, Science Teacher and Department Chair, Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies

2014: Sharon Churchwell, Lincoln Hall Middle School

2013: Mary McKinney, Newberry Math and Science Academy

2012: Mark Casey, Dunbar Vocational Career Academy

2011: Katherine M. Konyar, Wheeling High School

2010: Dr. Elizabeth Babcock Ph.D., The Field Museum

2009: Terry Meyer, Red Bud High School

2008: Hortense Brice, Lindblom Math & Science Academy

2007: Myrna Alvarez, Dunbar Vocational Career Academy

back to top