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Article updated: 2/11/2013 10:49 PM

Dist. 300 elementary teacher named Reading Educator of the Year

District 300 instructor Illinois Reading Educator of the Year

By Tara García Mathewson

A Perry Elementary School literacy teacher known for an ability to foster a passion for learning in her students was named an Illinois Reading Educator of the Year.

Barbara Malinger will receive the award from the Illinois Reading Council at a ceremony in March but was recognized Monday night during the Community Unit District 300 board of education meeting.

Malinger's principal at Carpentersville's Perry Elementary School, Leo Ortiz-Sanchez, said teachers from across the school have approached him to share a story about her and her teaching. As a new principal, he has not worked with Malinger for very long but already has recognized her skill.

"Some of these students are our lowest readers, and it is with her help they are able to make great gains and build up their self-confidence," Ortiz-Sanchez said.

Malinger's peers say she is a leader in the school, always looking for new and innovative techniques to help her students. She prefers hands-on activities to make her literacy strategies come alive.

The Illinois Reading Council recognizes up to four teachers with the reading educator of the year awards in three categories based on age level of their students and a fourth category for reading specialists.

Carrie Sheridan, executive director of the Illinois Reading Council, said the goal of the awards is to recognize outstanding teachers who promote literacy throughout the state.

Malinger was chosen for the reading specialist category. She spends her days working with small groups of students on literacy, but she also teaches at Judson University and is a former classroom teacher at the elementary level. Malinger has worked at Perry Elementary School for 15 years.

"She makes learning exciting for the kids," said Debra LaRue, another literacy teacher at Perry. "They want to come to school. They want to come to her class."

And while Malinger may be modest in the face of accolades, she is no stranger to recognition. Her grant awards have brought a variety of extras to the students at Perry over the years, LaRue said.

The Illinois Reading Council will hold an award ceremony during its annual conference, scheduled for March 14-16 in Springfield.

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