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For Immediate Release
Saturday, April 17, 2004

Environmental Science Teacher "Cleans-Up"

Deborah Perryman
Elgin High School
Biology & Environmental Sciences


(SPRINGFIELD) -- Deborah Perryman has spent the last decade teaching her students to appreciate the world around them, whether that is in preserving open lands or raising awareness about pollution. Saturday evening the fruits of Perryman's labor paid off when she was awarded the 2004 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Perryman was selected from 12 outstanding finalists. (For more information about the finalists, click here.) More than 300 nominations were received from students, parents, administrators and school board members for the Teacher of the Year award, which is part of the Those Who Excel program. Those Who Excel recognizes outstanding teachers and educators, and is sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education, Motorola and The SMARTer Kids Foundation.

"Teachers with Deb's strengths, commitment, and determination are the backbone of a solid educational experience for Illinois students," said State Superintendent of Education Robert Schiller. "Her dedication to teaching students to be curious about the world around them has resulted in a generation of students who will forever appreciate her contribution to them and are sure to be lifelong learners. She is an educator we should all emulate."

The scope of Perryman's Environmental Sciences and Biology class at Elgin High School has reached well beyond the classroom and has impacted the entire community. Elgin High School currently serves as a Stenciling Clearinghouse for the Conservation Foundation. The distinction came when Perryman's students learned that storm water is not treated before it enters creeks, rivers and lakes and then worked on a class project entitled "2000 in 2000." Using stencils and paint, the students aspired to stencil 2000 storm drains in the Poplar Creek Watershed. By last fall the students had marked 3,800 drains with signage stating "Dump No Waste, Drains to River." The foundation now provides equipment and training to any community organization interested in the project.

Elgin School District U-46 Superintendent, Connie Neale, credits Perryman's tenure with the district as one that has ensured that hundreds, if not thousands, of students; "have had a wonderful and substantive foundation in conservation education."

Perryman is also credited with transforming 35 acres of land on Elgin High School's property into a district resource that provides hands-on, multi-sensory learning for students of all ages. The Elgin High School Nature Trail has helped students learn that they can make a difference within the community. Her students have gained valuable leadership opportunities as they assist other teachers in class field trips on the Nature Trail. Perryman appoints students as team leaders, a role that comes with the responsibility for ensuring a smooth, problem-free learning experience for younger students. In addition, her students conduct workshops to help teachers learn more about environmental education.

Perryman's pride in her students is limitless and well justified. Her students were the first to present at an international conference on solid waste in its nineteen-year history. Perryman estimates that her students have taught more than 10,000 young learners about Illinois Natural History.

Deb has been teaching for the last twelve years and holds a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Aurora University.

As Illinois Teacher of the Year Perryman has the opportunity to take some time off from teaching. She will 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 students statewide. In addition, Perryman 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. She will also spend the 2004 fall semester speaking at teacher workshops, educational conferences and civic and community meetings.

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