Meet the educators from across the suburbs who served as judges for our 2012-2013 Daily Herald Leadership teams. Thanks to all of the judges for helping us recognize these deserving young people.
• The following educators from DuPage County served as judges for the 2012-13 Northwest Suburban Daily Herald Leadership Team.
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Daniel Cekay: A guidance counselor at Wheaton North High School, he has worked in education for 29 years, in both Illinois and Florida. He's been a teacher, coach, counselor, administrator and professor. Cekay has bachelor's, masters and doctoral degrees from Northern Illinois University, and a master's degree from Governor's State.
Diane Mercadante: The director of pastoral ministry at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, she has worked in education for eight years, all at St. Francis. Mercadante has a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministries from Dominican University and a master of arts in theology from the Catholic Theological Union.
Kevin Redding: The director of guidance for Addison Trail High School, Redding has a bachelor's degree from University of Illinois, a master's from Lewis University and his administrative certification through Northeastern Illinois. He began teaching special education at Plainfield South High School, then joined Addison Trail as the Special Education counselor. He has overseen the Guidance Department at Addison Trail for the past seven years.
Teri Wood: The director of community relations and community service for Fenton Community High School in Bensenville, Wood also was a community relations coordinator in Villa Park District 45 and has 10 years in school public relations. A graduate of Marquette University, she is a member of the National School Public Relations Association and its Illinois chapter.
• The following educators from the Northwest suburbs served as judges for the DuPage County Leadership Team:
Erin Gorman: A counselor at Bartlett High School, she has a master's in school counseling from National Louis University. After teaching for six years, she joined Elgin Area District U-46 as a guidance counselor four years ago, and is now working on a second master's, in school administration.
Cindi Gustafson: In her eighth year as a counselor and the scholarship/financial aid coordinator at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, Gustafson also serves as a co-sponsor for the Class of 2016 club. Prior to working as a school counselor, she worked in college admissions for five years.
Barbara Meyer: A French teacher at Buffalo Grove High School, she also is the school's coordinator of clubs and activities. She has taught both French and Spanish, coached cheerleading and poms, been a class board sponsor and provides guidance to the student leaders of the French Club.
Michele Napier: A counselor at Schaumburg High School, she has a bachelor's in psychology, a master's in Human Resources and Industrial Relations and a master's in school counseling. Napier had a 10-year career in the telecommunications industry before coming to education.
• The following educators from Lake County served as judges for the Fox Valley Daily Herald Leadership Team:
Amy Belstra: In her third year as college counselor at Libertyville High School, Belstra worked in college admissions for 12 years before moving to the high school side, where she has been for 13 years. She has a bachelor of arts in English literature from Hope College and a master of arts in counseling psychology from the University of Colorado.
DeAnn Firnbach: A school counselor at Vernon Hills High School, she received her master's degree from Roosevelt University and has been with District 128 for 19 years.
Elisa Mascorro: A Spanish teacher at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Mascorro is also chairwoman of the International Languages department and coordinator of community service. She has a bachelor's from Marquette University and two master's from Loyola University.
• The following educators from the Fox Valley area served as judges for the 2012-13 Lake County Leadership Team.
Chris Columbaro: Ten years ago he started with Community Unit District 300 as a music educator at Liberty Elementary. After getting a master's in educational Leadership from the University of Illinois, he headed the Fine Arts/World Language Divisions at Dundee-Crown High School before his current role, Associate Principal of Curriculum and Instruction.
Marnie Heim: An English teacher at Batavia High School since 2001, over the course of her career she has taught mainly sophomores and seniors, including AP Literature and Composition. Marnie has been a reader of the yearly AP exam in Louisville, and has presented at conferences, including the Illinois Association for the Teachers of English Fall Conference and the Connections Conference held annually at Pheasant Run in St. Charles.
Karen Miller: A counselor at Huntley High School for 10 years, she also is the senior class adviser, a speech team coach and the Tier 2 coach for the PBIS Program. Volunteerism plays an important role in her life, and besides volunteering herself she encourages her students to get involved within the school and community.
Kerry O'Brien: Part of the faculty of St. Edward Central Catholic High School for 11 years, he is currently Head of Counseling Services. He graduated from Fordham University with a bachelor of arts in English and got his master's in the art of teaching from National-Louis University. O'Brien also was a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica.