Outstanding teachers honored by Gurnee village board
Three teachers from school districts that serve Gurnee were honored by village officials this week as part of an annual awards program.
Darlene Lipczynski of Woodland Elementary District 50, Chris Mason of Warren Township High School District 121, and Frank Fitzgerald of Gurnee Elementary District 56 captured this year's recognitions. Each received a plaque and a privately funded $1,000 check.
The village began the award program in 2014 as a way to recognize excellent teachers who support students in the community.
Fitzgerald teaches at Spaulding School, which serves prekindergarten through second grade. Spaulding Principal Ellen Mauer said Fitzgerald, who's been at District 56 for roughly 20 years, uses technology to enhance his art classes.
"Frank is well-respected by his colleagues and the community," Mauer said. "He goes out of his way to do extra things for our students throughout the year. He is a truly selfless individual."
Lipczynski, an English language arts teacher, has worked at Woodland Middle School for four years. She previously taught third-graders for 12 years at Woodland Elementary School.
"My philosophy of teaching is really the same as any other educator: Give children a voice and provide a safe place to use that voice," she said. "Advocate for them when they can't advocate for themselves. Validate their thoughts and feelings and make sure they know they have value and worth."
Mason, a business instructor, has been at Warren for 29 years. She's known for her tenure as longtime adviser for the Future Business Leaders of America and having a passion in the area of accounting.
"The best part of teaching is knowing that each day is not only a learning opportunity to share with my students, but also a learning opportunity for me," Mason said. "As teachers, we make a difference when we teach valuable, lifelong learning skills. Working with students in the classroom and with the Future Business Leaders of America organization has enriched my life."