St. Charles East teacher named Kane County's top educator
The awakening of students' civic minds is among the reasons Kyle Libberton loves teaching history and psychology.
Each day, Libberton creates a fantasy museum in students' minds, which they populate with exhibits.
"The more I can get students involved in creating and designing that day's lesson, the better it is," said Libberton, who has taught at St. Charles East High School for nine years. "That's the culture and mentality of education. You want to have that collaboration of ideas."
Libberton was named Kane County's Educator of the Year on Friday and will receive a $3,000 classroom grant from the Kane County Regional Office of Education.
He was among 41 educators honored at the 43rd Educator of the Year banquet at the Q Center in St. Charles.
Fred Heid, superintendent of Community Unit District 300, was named Administrator of the Year.
A 19-year veteran educator, Heid is in his fourth year in District 300. He believes in building strong relationships with students, staff, parents, and community members, frequently engaging them through social media.
"At the end of the day, what matters most is that relationship and interaction between an adult and a child, and that's what we're here to support," Heid said. "The better we do that and the better we can nature those positive interactions, the better our students and community will do."
Preschool: Karen Nellis, early childhood blended, Alice Gustafson Elementary, Batavia. "You have to be mentally, emotionally, and physically present each day with the students. The environment itself is a large part of the early childhood curriculum. The children have a lot of choice and self-direction in the classroom."
Elementary: Mary Fulin, second grade, Otter Creek Elementary, Elgin. "We all know that students come in with different social and emotional needs, so I make it a part of our curriculum. I want to teach them how to behave in different situations depending on the circumstances."
Middle school: Beth Harner, special education, Dundee Middle School, West Dundee. "I see a real need for kids to be able to make the transition from life inside of a school to being a contributing member of society. I want to prepare my students to be successful in the workplace and successful socially, as well."
High school: Susan Zagorski, English language arts interventionist, Central High, Hampshire. "High school is the time for students to try new things and learn what they want to do. It's also a time for students to take risks and make mistakes, because that's where we as teachers come in to support them."
Student support personnel: Denise Michels, counselor, Harter Middle School, Sugar Grove. "Middle school is a crucial part of a child's life. There are so many areas that they need guidance, and you get to be that person that helps guide them."
Early career: Saul Olivas, bilingual, Johnson Elementary, Aurora. "I care for the environment and community around my students and me. I've been part of the East Aurora community for over 22 years, and I want to make sure our kids know that you can always do anything if you set your mind to it."
Educational service personnel: Brittany Bailey-Cole, paraprofessional, Geneva High. "As a paraprofessional, I'm in some classes to work with specific students, but I never single those students out. I always try to help any student that needs help in the classroom."
Private/parochial school: Peggy Veltri, social studies/English, Elgin Academy. "I like to give the kids a lot of opportunities to write for different audiences. If my students can communicate their ideas clearly to others, that can make a huge difference in the rest of their lives."
Regional Superintendent Award: Lisa Dandre, assistant principal, St. Charles East High School. "Meaningful relationships are what I believe in. If you can make students feel comfortable, you will see their best self, and then you can meet them where they're at and take them as far as you can take them."
Organizers also honored 127 retiring educators collectively representing more than 3,800 years experience.