A roar went up at Lincoln Junior High School when it was announced sixth-grade social studies and language arts teacher Josh Stumpenhorst is among nine finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year.
Stumpenhorst, a teacher at the Naperville school since 2003, was selected from about 175 teachers nominated through the Illinois State Board of Education's "Those Who Excel" educator recognition program.
"The teachers who have been chosen as finalists represent the best of the best, and this program enables us to publicly recognize them for their dedication to education," said Gery J. Chico, state board chairman.
The winner will be announced on Oct. 22 in Normal.
A graduate of North Central College in Naperville, Stumpenhorst said he fell in love with junior high while student-teaching at Lincoln. He has expanded his horizons as a teacher by using social media to connect with other educators and encourages use of technology in the classroom.
Last spring, he spearheaded an Innovation Day during which each of Lincoln's sixth-graders pursued a learning project of their own choosing.
Stumpenhorst also serves as the school's athletic director, coach for basketball and track, grade team leader, member of the social science curriculum committee and adviser to the school's computer club.
Stumpenhorst said he was shocked to hear of his nomination.
"Personally, I don't like the attention," he said. "But I like the fact the teaching profession is getting good attention because of it."