Judy Hackett, superintendent of the Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization, has been named Superintendent of the Year by the Illinois Association of School Administrators.
Hackett, an educator for 36 years, has been at the helm of the Mount Prospect-based special education district since 2007, which provides services and support to students with special needs in eight member school districts in the Northwest suburbs.
She was recognized for establishing and expanding partnerships with member districts, guiding reform, leading comprehensive programming and advancing students' transition to college, according to a news release.
The award was presented Saturday at the Joint Annual Conference in Chicago, attended by organizations representing school administrators, business officials and school board members from across the state.
"This award has always recognized exceptional achievement," Hackett said in the release.
"This year, it seems to me that it recognizes the achievement of the exceptional -- those exceptional students with disabilities across Illinois who embody courage in the face of unrelenting struggle and hope in the face of daunting odds.
"They have always guided me to what is best in humanity and best in myself."
NSSEO governing board President Frank Fiarito, a River Trails Elementary District 26 school board member, was one of those who nominated Hackett.
"Dr. Hackett ... stays focused on helping children to become well-adjusted and independent individuals," he wrote in a letter to the selection committee.
"She is passionate about education, truly loves our district's children, wants what's best for them, and continually advocates for their welfare on the federal, state and local levels."
Hackett, a native of Skokie, began her career teaching in suburban districts from Lake County to Chicago Heights. She later was an assistant superintendent at Indian Prairie Unit District 204 in Aurora and Naperville.
Besides District 26, NSSEO member districts are Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, Arlington Heights Elementary District 25, Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59, Mount Prospect Elementary District 57, Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 and Wheeling Township Elementary District 21.