Illinois Teacher of the Year receives her own holiday in Aurora

May 7 is National Teacher Appreciation Day, and Aurora is showing appreciation to the top teacher in the state.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin surprised Dr. Rachael Mahmood, the 2024 Illinois Teacher of the Year, with a special visit to her fifth-grade classroom at Georgetown Elementary School in Aurora.

Mayor Irvin presented Mahmood with flowers and a proclamation naming Friday, May 31, 2024, the final day of school for Indian Prairie Unit District 204, “Dr. Rachael Mahmood Day” in Aurora.

“Dr. Mahmood is an award-winning educator who has dedicated her nearly 20-year career to the students and families in Indian Prairie School District 204, “said Mayor Irvin to the cheers of her excited students. “We mark this milestone school year for her by naming the last day of school in her honor.”

In February of this year, the Illinois State Board of Education named Mahmood the Far West Suburban Teacher of the Year. On Thursday, May 2, ISBE presented Mahmood with the 2024 Illinois Teacher of the Year Award, a first for the Indian Prairie Unit District 204 and the first in nearly 40 years for a teacher in Aurora.

Mahmood began her teaching career in 2005 and has spent her entire career in District 204, with the last nine years as a teacher at Georgetown Elementary School.

Mahmood is a sought-after speaker, educational consulting firm founder, and community-oriented educator who has served as an Equity Ambassador and Parent Diversity Advisory Council Leadership team member for District 204, worked on the Brain Trust for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and serves as the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition Educational Task Force Chair.

“Wow, this is such an honor,” Mahmood said. “I can’t believe I have my own day!”

As the Illinois Teacher of the Year, Mahmood will take a one-year, ISBE-funded sabbatical to represent Illinois teachers on the national stage.

But first, she will finish this school year at the end of the month by celebrating “Dr. Rachael Mahmood Day” on the last day of school.

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