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October 10, 2003

"Special" Educator Receives National Teaching Award

Springfield, IL - Carolyn Baider not only teaches children with special needs, she personifies the word “special.”

Originally hired as a classroom assistant at Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine, Ill., Carolyn demonstrated a real gift for teaching and, after earning her M.S. in Special Education, she joined the teaching staff at Sundling. Four years ago she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, but she didn’t let that stand in the way of teaching. She rarely missed a day of school even while she was undergoing treatment and she never complained.

That inner strength and passion for teaching is what made Baider a recipient of the Milken National Educator Award. As one of two Illinois honorees, and one of 100 nationwide, Baider will also receive $25,000 to be used in any manner she chooses.

The award is given annually to teachers demonstrating exemplary teaching skills and personal commitment to education. This year, 100 teachers in 47 states and the District of Columbia will receive Milken awards. To date, the Milken Family Foundation has honored almost 2,000 teachers, distributing more than $47 million.

According to her colleagues, Baider is a natural born leader. She is praised for her tireless efforts in finding innovative teaching strategies that help students learn and sharing her knowledge with the other teachers. Baider is credited with creating a new referral program for the building and is considered the local expert in Brain Based learning throughout the district. She is also very active on committees throughout the district and frequently conducts workshops to share her expertise and knowledge.

Baider works closely with parents and community members as well. Her philosophy is that working together towards improving learning is vital in helping ensure that all students become successful learners.

According to one of her colleagues, “she’s a multi-faceted leader and uses creative ways to reach people at every level.”

Now in remission from cancer, Baider doesn’t take the time to look back. She focuses only on the future and doing what she loves most—teaching.

The name of the other Milken recipient will remain confidential until the educator is notified later this month.

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