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Until 7:00 p.m. April 13, 2002

Grimm, a "visionary educator," named 2002 Illinois Teacher of the Year

Springfield-William Fremd High School physics teacher and science department chair Robert Grimm says that his vision for education focuses on doing whatever is necessary to ensure that students succeed not just within the classroom, but within the community as well.

Bob believes that one of the greatest tools available to help students learn is other students. "One person may have an initial seed of an idea, but it is through the scrutiny of others that the idea grows more useful."

During his term as Illinois Teacher of the Year, Grimm will have plenty of opportunities to test this philosophy as he works with teachers, students, administrators, and community members.

Grimm is a 23-year veteran who began his career because he found he thrived when working with others in group settings or as partners. He decided that if he could help others learn in the same manner he could make a difference in many lives. He was chosen as Teacher of the Year from among 14 outstanding finalists for the Illinois State Board of Education's Those Who Excel awards program. Bob and about 290 other excellent educators, school staff, parents and community volunteers were honored April 13th as part of the 28th annual event.

As Teacher of the Year, Grimm will spend the 2002 fall semester speaking at teacher workshops, educational conferences and civic and community meetings. He will also receive a lifetime tuition waiver to state universities and a one-semester paid leave to pursue graduate work or develop an educational project that will benefit schools across the state.

In addition, he will represent Illinois at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic, Inc.

"Teachers of Bob's caliber are the reason Illinois education continues to improve," said State Superintendent of Education Respicio Vazquez. "His dedication to helping his students learn, coupled with his own commitment to continuous learning make him an educator to emulate."

Bob became interested in education as a profession while he studied science. An experience with one of his physics professors sealed that decision and helped launch Bob's career. He moved back to Illinois after teaching at an inner city school in Pontiac City, Michigan.

He says that one of the most important things he learned early in his career was to listen to veteran educators. Bob learned early-on how much impact mentors could have on a young teacher.

These lessons have helped him recognize how students gain understanding through the strength of other students. Bob has his students work in small groups and take active and leading roles in discussions-strategies he says have helped every student to achieve.

Principal Shirley Mertz explains one of the ways Bob connects students. "Building Construction is an applied technology course in which a team of 15 students build a home from the ground up. Bob brings students with a theoretical perspective, such as physics, together with students proficient in applying knowledge in real-life situations. Theory and practice come together as all the students work in pairs to wire 120-volt circuts."

Grimm has cultivated a business partnership with Motorola that has opened yet more doors for his students to expand their knowledge. Several projects have been initiated through this partnership, including astronomy classes that use an "antenna dish" to see NASA television and Earth Science classes using a weather station on the roof so weather can be charted. Motorola engineers and executives regularly visit the school to hear and see power point presentations by the students who are conducting consumer product testing on new walkie-talkie lines produced by Motorola.

In 1984 Bob was named the Illinois High School Physics Teacher of the Year." In 1991 he received the "Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching." He has written numerous articles and publications pertaining to the field of science.

Bob and his wife, Tracey, have two sons, Chris and Mike. They live in Arlington Heights.

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777