Lake County Tech Campus auto services teacher surprised with national honor

For his above and beyond efforts as an automotive services teacher at Lake County Tech Campus, Jack Wilson was named a LifeChanger of the Year in front of hundreds of students and their parents Thursday evening.

Though the presentation happened during the Tech Campuses' annual awards night, when the campus community gathers to commemorate the school year and honor exemplary students, the news that he'd won was surprise to Wilson.

"Oh, I had no idea," Wilson said after the ceremony. "It wasn't until they started talking about the LifeChanger that I realized it."

Wilson and just 15 others were named LifeChangers among nearly 600 nominees among K-12 teachers and school employees nationwide. He said he'd seen on social media that other nominees were receiving their awards so he knew if it was going to happen it would be soon.

Wilson said he was grateful for the recognition and for all the people he'd seen posting such nice things about him on Facebook in the weeks since his nomination was announced.

"It's really, really wonderful for a Tech Campus teacher being recognized for such an award at the national level," Lake County Tech Campus Principal Derrick Burress said to the crowd assembled at the Grayslake North High School Fieldhouse. "It shows really clearly that the Tech Campus really is important and does make a difference every day."

For winning Wilson will split the $3,000 prize with the Lake County Tech Campus.

Sherrod Clear of National Life Group, the life insurance company which gives out the LifeChanger of the Years, was on hand to present the certificate to Wilson. Clear said at the end of this award cycle the award program will have granted over $725,000 to teachers and schools.

Laura Emmerling, the dean of student services at the Lake County Tech Campus, nominated Wilson for the award.

"His leadership and commitment have served to create programs that drive success," Emmerling said. "We're lucky to have someone so enthusiastic about making a beneficial difference in the lives of its students."

In addition to teaching students in the school's workshop that features much of the same technology used at auto repair and service shops, Wilson has put in extra work to create new opportunities for his students.

Wilson, who is also president of the local teacher's union, created an internship program that connects students with local companies. His Give Me Ten Internship Training Program has netted extended internships, and even some job offers, for students who have taken part, campus officials said.

The Lake County Tech Campus is where juniors and seniors from 22 member high schools throughout Lake and McHenry counties go for career training classes. The campus offers 20 programs in a variety of subjects, including criminal justice, cosmetology and multimedia design.

  Jack Wilson, an automotive services teacher at the Lake County Tech Campus, reacts after receiving a LifeChanger Award during a surprise ceremony at Grayslake North High School Thursday evening. Doug T. Graham/
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