A dozen suburban teachers are among 29 educators statewide recognized for being the best in their respective fields for the 2013-14 school year.
The Illinois State Board of Education and the two largest teachers unions -- Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association -- presented the educators with awards for their exemplary work in the classroom during a luncheon Wednesday at the governor's mansion in Springfield.
"With Illinois implementing new learning standards to prepare students for a global workforce, the expertise and skills of these outstanding teachers is invaluable," State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch said in a news release. "Their knowledge and passion for teaching in a variety of curriculum areas is an integral component of student success. We are pleased to have the opportunity to extend our thanks and appreciation for their commitment to Illinois' students and education."
This was the fourth annual Exemplary Teacher Recognition Award Luncheon hosted by the state board and the two state teacher associations. The winners were selected by their professional education organizations.
It is separate from the state board's Teacher of the Year Award given out each fall and the Those Who Excel program, which recognizes more than 150 educators nominated by their own districts or community members for outstanding service.
"We are delighted to honor these educators for all they do for the communities they serve," said Dan Montgomery, Illinois Federation of Teachers president. "We recognize how these dedicated teachers go above and beyond for their students every day and represent the high quality of teaching taking place throughout the state."
This year's recipients include:
• Joanna Angelopoulos, 2013 Distinguished Service in the Profession of Art Education, Gary M. Sanborn Elementary School, Palatine.
• Cathy Britts-Axen, 2014 Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year, Central Middle School, Burlington.
• Peter Duffer, Outstanding Economic Educator 2013, Buffalo Grove High School.
• Patrick Fardy, Outstanding Economic Educator, South High School, Downers Grove.
• Laura Font, Illinois History Teacher of the Year 2013, Madison Elementary School, Lombard.
• Angie Hughes, Illinois Health Education Teacher of the Year, Maine East High School, Park Ridge.
• Will Navis, Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, Lincoln Elementary School, St. Charles.
• David Schultz, Outstanding High School Physics Teacher of the Year, Maine East High School, Park Ridge.
• Gustavo Silva, Young Professional Elementary Teacher of the Year, Richmond Intermediate School, St. Charles.
• Courtney Thomas, Teacher of the Year, Kingsley Elementary School, Naperville.
• Margot Van Dyke, Presidential Award State Finalist in Science, O'Neil Middle School, Downers Grove.
• Rebecca Vieyra, Presidential Award State Finalist in Science, Cary-Grove High School.