Suburban teachers among finalists for top state award

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.

William Fritz
Amy Walsh

Those Who Excel

Cook County

Ÿ ABC/25 Foundation, recognition, team, Arlington Heights Elementary District 25

Ÿ Linda Ashida, merit, classroom teacher, Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Arlington Heights

Ÿ Ryan Brown, merit, classroom teacher, Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211

Ÿ Michelle Burke, recognition, classroom teacher, Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54

Ÿ Timothy Cannon, excellence, administrator, District 211

Ÿ Fred Davis, recognition, community volunteer, Palatine Township Elementary District 15

Ÿ Food Pantry Team School District 54, merit, District 54

Ÿ James Garwood, recognition, administrator, District 15

Ÿ Valerie Gruenwald, merit, student support personnel, District 15

Ÿ Elizabeth Grabanski, merit, educational service personnel, District 211

Ÿ Karen Hindman, recognition administrator, District 54

Ÿ Andrew Kittrell, recognition, early career educator, District 211

Ÿ Becky Lopez, recognition, student support personnel, District 54

Ÿ Robbin Masters, excellence, early career educator, District 54

Ÿ Mike Mostacci, recognition, educational service personnel, District 54

Ÿ Francine Mueller, excellence, educational service personnel, District 15

Ÿ Christina Ordonez, excellence, student support personnel, District 211

Ÿ Palatine’s Promise, excellence, District 211

Ÿ Debra Parenti, merit, administrator, District 214

Ÿ Plum Grove Junior High STEM Team, merit, District 15

Ÿ Julie Rhodes, recognition, community volunteer, District 211

Ÿ Julie Ritzema, recognition, student support personnel, Des Plaines Elementary District 62

Ÿ Alexa Rodheim, excellence, early career educator, District 214

Ÿ Michael Santopoalo, recognition, classroom teacher, District 62

Ÿ Special Olympics IL Project Unify Youth Activation Committee, excellence, Prospect Heights Elementary District 23

Ÿ Team Dos, recognition team, District 62

Ÿ Dan Tucker, recognition, early career educator, District 15

Ÿ Jane Westerhold, excellence, administrator, District 62

Ÿ Jeff Zilke, recognition, classroom teacher, District 15

DuPage County

Ÿ Matt Egan, recognition, educational service personnel, Naperville Unit District 203

Ÿ Jeffery Farson, merit, administrator, District 203

Ÿ Judy Gervase, merit, student support personnel, District 203

Ÿ Jefferson Junior High School Administrative Team, recognition, District 203

Ÿ Jessica Jozwiak, recognition, community volunteer, District 203

Ÿ John Myers, recognition, classroom teacher, District 203

Ÿ Alyssa Spovieri, merit, early career educator, District 203

Ÿ James Stelter, recognition, administrator, Bensenville Elementary District 2

ŸAmy Walsh, excellence, classroom teacher, District 2


Ÿ Lourdes Albrecht, merit, community volunteer, Kildeer-Countryside Elementary District 96, Buffalo Grove

Ÿ Merced Alfaro, excellence, community volunteer, Round Lake Unit District 116

Ÿ Nicole Bihn, recognition, student support personnel, District 116

Ÿ Bonnie Bodenheimer, merit, student support personnel, Dist. 96

Ÿ Mark Buesing, excellence, classroom teacher, Libertyville-Vernon Hills High School District 128

Ÿ Sara English, recognition, student support personnel, Antioch High School District 117

Ÿ William Fritz, excellence, classroom teacher, Adlai E. Stevenson High School District 125, Lincolnshire

Ÿ Diana Garcia, merit, educational service personnel, District 116

Ÿ Lauren Hagan, merit, early career educator, Gavin Elementary District 37, Ingleside

Ÿ Michael Hickey, merit, early career educator, District 117

Ÿ Nancy Hudson, merit, educational service personnel, District 125

Ÿ Individualized Learning Community Team, recognition, team, District 96

Ÿ Megan Kuczora, recognition, classroom teacher, District 96

Ÿ Dawn Latakas, excellence, community volunteer, District 117

Ÿ Michael Mizwicki, recognition, administrator, District 116

Ÿ Morgan O’Connor, merit, classroom teacher, District 117

Ÿ Kimberly Pappas, recognition, educational service personnel, District 96

Ÿ Jeanne Spiller, excellence, administrator, District 96

Ÿ Stevenson Dance Team, merit, District 125

Ÿ Laura Strange, recognition, classroom teacher, District 116


Ÿ Ingrid Mullane, recognition, classroom teacher, Huntley Unit District 158, Algonquin

Ÿ Pat Olson-McGee, merit, student support personnel, District 158

Ÿ Jeffrey Robinson, recognition, early career educator, District 158

Ÿ Michael Skala, recognition, school board member, District 158

Source: Illinois State Board of Education

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