Reading teacher receives $25,000 national Milken educator award

October 18, 2001
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Springfield-In a time when educators are constantly trying to find ways to help students read, it seems a certain few teachers have the special gift for communicating to their students the joys of reading.

One of those few is Dr. Steve Layne, who teaches grades 6-8 at Butler Jr. High School in Oak Brook. On Monday, Layne received the Milken National Educator Award in recognition of his outstanding teaching abilities. As one of two Illinois honorees, and one of 120 nationwide, Layne will also receive $25,000 to be used in any manner he chooses.

One of his former students, Laureen Sprieser, says; “Dr. Layne supplements his reading instruction in multiple ways to show students that everything in life relates to reading. Dr. Layne “tailor-makes” the students’ language arts education so that they can do nothing but achieve and conquer.”

Dr. Layne began his teaching career in 1989 as an elementary teacher. Over the past 13 years, Layne has taught in elementary and middle schools as well as colleges and universities. He also provides consulting services for other educators, conducts numerous in-services throughout his school district, and has written numerous articles on the teaching of reading. Layne has published three books and is currently self-publishing a novel.

To further foster his student’s interest in reading, Layne created the school’s reading lounge. He also keeps special shelves of books in his classroom for his students’ use. Another way he goes above and beyond traditional teaching methods is by reading adolescent-aged books himself and then recommending them to students. Layne also shares his own writing with the students and during “free-write” periods he works on editing his material so students get a real “first-hand” feel about the many facets of being an author.

The Milken National Educator Award was created to honor teachers that are not willing to simply sit back and wait for a child to learn. Dr. Layne’s most powerful teaching tools are his enthusiasm and passion for the subjects of reading and writing. He sparks the students’ imagination, fans the spark of knowledge as it emerges, and then continues to fuel the fire until it becomes a blaze that will burn brightly throughout the students’ life.