Kane County Regional Office of Education preparing for record-setting Educator of the Year Banquet

Each year, the Kane County Regional Office of Education honors professionals from throughout Kane County at the Educator of the Year banquet. It is an opportunity for hundreds of school professionals, friends, and family to gather for a night of celebration and reflection on the achievements and dedication of staff across the educational spectrum.

The 48th Educator of the Year banquet, set for Friday, May 3 at the Q Center in St. Charles, marks a significant milestone with a record-breaking 57 nominations. These nominees feature representation from each of the nine unit school districts in Kane County.

Each one is eligible to be selected as Educator of the Year, but also span seven distinguished categories: Early Career Educator, Early Childhood/Elementary, Educational Service Personnel, Middle School, High School, Student Service Personnel, and School Administrator.

“The number of nominations we received reflects the amount of time spent by colleagues who completed the submission process,” said Patricia Dal Santo, Regional Superintendent at the Kane County Regional Office of Education. “That is a testament to the incredible work happening in our schools and the profound impact these educators have on the lives of Kane County students, staff, and communities.”

For a nominee to be eligible, participants are asked to submit a nomination form for a colleague, a professional biography, examples of leadership, accomplishments, and at least one letter of recommendation from a teacher, administrator, parent, student, and community member.

These often take the form of sprawling binders and scrapbooks that cover a nominee’s personal and professional life through photographs, artwork, and themes.

Nominations are then reviewed by a group of student teachers, retired teachers, university representatives, business representatives, and national board certified teachers.

“They have developed into labors of love over time. We’re talking thousands of pages submitted, all with the purpose of encapsulating what these educators have done for those they serve,” Dal Santo said. “Combing through these books is a highlight of the year and makes the review process challenging, but joyful.”

Staff members from the regional office of education travel throughout Kane County to sit down for interviews with each nominee. These provide a chance for nominees to share their experience, what drives them, and will provide a personal touch to the event.

In addition to honoring these outstanding educators, the banquet traditionally features student participation from the school districts the ROE serves. This includes presentation of the colors by Junior ROTC and musical performances before the banquet.

At the May 3 banquet, the Kane County Regional Office of Education will recognize retiring superintendents: West Aurora Unit District 129’s Dr. Jeff Craig and Community Unit District 300’s Dr. Susan Harkin.

The ROE also plans to recognize two retiring superintendents: Dr. Jeff Craig of West Aurora Unit District 129 and Dr. Susan Harkin of Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300.

A portion of the event also will recognize educational staff that have passed away this school year.

“We always search for ways to expand and to add a different touch each year,” Dal Santo said. “It’s not just school communities that attend. We have Kane County government officials and members of the Illinois State Board of Education that join us as well, so it has become a celebration for all of Kane County as well as education in Illinois. We want to make the event memorable for all who make the effort to be with us.”

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