State Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced


March 6, 2002
Springfield - Fourteen outstanding Illinois teachers are finalists for the 2002-2003 State Teacher of the Year award, to be presented April 13 by State Superintendent of Education Respicio F. Vazquez.

The finalists are selected from the teachers nominated for the State Board's Those Who Excel education awards. The winner will be announced at the Those Who Excel awards banquet starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 3000 S. Dirksen Parkway, Springfield.

Finalists for Teacher of the Year 2002

Charles Force, Eisenhower High School, Decatur. Mr. Force has been teaching math to students in the ninth-twelfth grades for the past 28 years.

Frances Fuerst, Ridge Lawn Elementary School, Chicago Ridge. She has been teaching first grade at Ridge Lawn for the past eight years, and has ten years total teaching experience.

Robert Grimm, William Fremd High School, Palatine. Mr. Grimm is the Science Department Chair and teaches physics. He has 23 years experience as a teacher.

Jane Ellen Hayes, Eisenhower and Mike Golden West Middle Schools, Rockford. She teaches English as a Second Language to students in the sixth-eighth grades. Ms. Hayes has been teaching for 18 years.

Virginia Highstone, York Community High School, Elmhurst. Mrs. Highstone teaches math to her high school students and has been teaching for 15 years.

Christine Kelly, Blair Elementary School, Madison. For the past 6 years, Ms. Kelly has taught kindergarten. She has a total of 29 years of experience as a teacher.

Sue Kosciewicz-Johnson, LaSalle-Peru Township High School, LaSalle. Mrs. Johnson has been the Social Science Chair for 19 years and teacher of Social Science.

Keith Kuykendall, Tinley Park High School, Tinley Park. A high school teacher of chemistry, physics, chemistry/physics, and algebra I, Mr. Kuykendall has been a teacher for 14 years.

Craig Lindvahl, Teutopolis High School, Teutopolis. Mr. Lindvahl has spent the past 23 years teaching music to students in the first-twelfth grades.

Pat Olson-McGee, Union High School, Biggsville. Mrs. McGee teaches self-social skills, U.S. History, Health, Modern Problems, and Honors U.S. History to ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students. She is currently in her 20th year as a teacher.

Kyp McLaren, Lincoln Elementary, Canton. The past fourteen years have found Mrs. McLaren teaching first grade to her students at Lincoln Elementary. She has been teaching for a total of 19 years.

Mary Ellen Somers, Parkside Jr. High School, Normal. Ms. Somers teaches Art to students in the seventh and eighth grades at Parkside Jr. High School. She has 24 years experience as a teacher.

Janice Southard, Goreville School, Goreville. She teaches art to students in the seventh-twelfth grades, and English to her junior high students. Mrs. Southard has been teaching for five years.

Jeffrey Weber, Longfellow Elementary, Oak Park. Mr. Weber has been teaching third graders for the past eight years. He has a total of 19 years teaching experience.

The 2001 Teacher of the Year is Jo Crow, a middle school science teacher from Metamora Grade School in Metamora.

The Teacher of the Year will spend the first semester of the 2002-2003 school year speaking statewide at teacher workshops, educational conferences and civic and community meetings. The Teacher of the Year will also receive a lifetime tuition waiver to state universities and a one-semester paid leave to pursue graduate work.

The winner also represents 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.