Five suburban teachers are among the 12 finalists for this year's Illinois Teacher of the Year honors, the Illinois State Board of Education announced Tuesday.
The finalists are:
• Seth Brady, who teaches anthropology, comparative religions and world cultures at Naperville Central High School.
• Steven Elza, an automotive technology teacher at William Fremd High School in Palatine.
• Lauren Hoeft, who teaches third grade at Prairie Elementary School in Kildeer Countryside Elementary District 96.
• Heather Kraus, a fifth grade teacher at Southbury Elementary School in Oswego.
• Emily Weiss, a social studies, U.S. history, American studies and public service teacher at Grayslake North High School.
"This program gives us the opportunity to meet outstanding educators at every level and recognize leadership and achievements in classrooms throughout Illinois," State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch said in a statement announcing the finalists.
"Their passion, creativity and commitment to students is an inspiration. We are pleased to publicly recognize the individuals who make a difference in students' lives every day."
A committee of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners reviewed 231 nominations this year.
The 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be named Oct. 25 at the Those Who Excel banquet in downstate Bloomington, which will acknowledge the contributions of more than 200 educators and school personnel.
Pam Reilly is the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Pam teaches second grade at Woodbury Elementary School in Sandwich Community Unit School District 430.
"It has been and continues to be quite an amazing journey," Reilly said. "I can't express how grateful I am to be Illinois Teacher of the Year. It is an honor and privilege to represent teachers and students across Illinois."
The 2015 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.