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updated: 10/6/2017 4:49 PM

Wheaton Warrenville South High School Teacher Honored as 'Symetra Hero in the Classroom'

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  • 2017 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom honoree Jim Stankevitz receives $2,000 from Symetra for classroom books and equipment and tickets to the Chicago Bears game on Oct. 9.Daniel Fairs

    2017 Symetra Heroes in the Classroom honoree Jim Stankevitz receives $2,000 from Symetra for classroom books and equipment and tickets to the Chicago Bears game on Oct. 9.Daniel Fairs

 
Diana McSweeney

Symetra, Gallagher Benefit Services and the Chicago Bears honored Wheaton Warrenville South High School physics teacher James Stankevitz as a "Symetra Hero in the Classroom" on Oct. 5 during a surprise classroom presentation.

"Jim Stankevitz has been teaching physics for over 40 years. He has received multiple teaching awards, including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, given to him by President Clinton. Despite his many well-deserved accolades, Jim remains the most humble teacher at Wheaton Warrenville South High School -- although everyone knows he is the smartest person at our school AND the best teacher in the building," said Phil Culcasi, a Science Department teaching colleague. Culcasi nominated Stankevitz for the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom® award.

"As the AP Physics C (calculus-based) teacher at our school, Jim has built the program over the years from fewer than 15 students to over 60 students annually. More significantly, he has doubled--and doubled again--the number of female students taking upper level physics courses. He sends students out into the world as leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math disciplines (STEM). His former students work at NASA, are well-accomplished physicians, or doing cutting edge research with renewable energy. Some have even appeared on Jeopardy! But to many of his 4,000-plus students, he is simply a kind, brilliant man who is the best teacher they have ever had."

"Jim Stankevitz is truly a teacher of students and a teacher of teachers. He was my physics teacher when I attended Marist High School in the late 80's. He taught at Marist for 19 years before moving to Wheaton Warrenville South in the 90's. Without question the best physics teacher in the state, he was a hero of mine when I was a student and is even more of a hero now that I have the privilege to teach alongside of him," said Culcasi.

Stankevitz is one of 16 K--12 teachers in the Chicago area who will be honored for educational excellence in the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom program during the 2017 NFL season. Teachers are recognized in front of their students and peers at surprise in-school presentations, and they receive a $2,000 donation for classroom books and supplies. In addition, they receive tickets to a Bears home game and are acknowledged during an on-field presentation at Soldier Field. Stankevitz will be recognized at the Oct. 9 game when the Bears take on the Minnesota Vikings.

Teachers may be nominated by their principal, district staff, student or student's parent. The winners are selected based on their ability to make a real difference in students' lives; to go above and beyond in their day-to-day responsibilities; and to help students build life skills.

More information about Symetra Heroes in the Classroom is available at www.SymetraHeroes.com/Bears.

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