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Article updated: 10/8/2013 5:34 PM

Suburban teachers among finalists for top state award

By Madhu Krishnamurthy

Three teachers from Lake and DuPage counties are among 11 Teacher of the Year finalists vying for the state's top educator award for 2014.

Finalists include: Mark Buesing, a science and physics teacher at Libertyville High School; William Fritz, a communication arts teacher at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire; and Amy Walsh, fourth grade teacher at Tioga School in Bensenville.

The winner will be named at the Illinois State Board of Education's 39th annual Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year banquet Oct. 19 in Normal. The state board also will honor more than 180 of Illinois' outstanding educators.

The Teacher of the Year serves as Illinois' ambassador for the teaching profession during the 2013-14 school year and represents Illinois in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target.

"Every day in schools across the state, dedicated educators are diligently working to help students become successful learners," state Superintendent Christopher Koch said in a news release. "They might be helping a student overcome an obstacle, understand a new concept or apply for college but they're all putting their students first. I am honored to have the opportunity to publicly recognize these unsung heroes and thank them for their efforts on behalf of Illinois' students."

Brian Curtin, a Schaumburg High School English teacher, was the 2013 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

The 2014 finalists were selected by a committee comprised of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners who reviewed roughly 200 nominations.

The Teacher of the Year will represent Illinois at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and in the Council of Chief State School Officers' National Teacher of the Year Program.

School district leaders and community members nominate candidates for the overall excellence awards. A committee of peers, organized through the state board chooses award recipients.

Excellence award categories are: classroom teacher, school administrator, student support personnel, educational service personnel, school board member/community volunteer, teams -- recognizes groups of teachers and/or administrators -- citizen committees, civic organizations, parent organizations, school boards, booster clubs, and others that have a significant impact on teaching and learning in a school or district, and early career educator.

A total of 183 awards will be distributed at the Oct. 19 banquet at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 201 Broadway St., Normal. Tickets to the event are sold out.

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