For Immediate Release
August 29, 2007

8 teachers selected as finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year

SPRINGFIELD –The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today the names of the eight finalists for the 2007-2008 Illinois Teacher of the Year. The finalists, representing schools across the state, are selected from nominees through ISBE's 'Those Who Excel' educator recognition program.

"This group of outstanding educators exemplifies the dedication and commitment of Illinois teachers," State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch said. "Each and everyday they go above and beyond to help Illinois students become successful learners. 'Those Who Excel' provides us with the opportunity to publicly recognize their achievements and to thank them for all they do for the children of this state."

Nearly 170 nominations were reviewed this year by a selection committee comprised of volunteer administrators, teachers, school board members, representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel, parent/teacher organizations and former Illinois Teachers of the Year.

Each nomination is individually reviewed and scored three times. Nominations are scored based on personal background information, the nominator's recommendation, and letters of recommendation. In addition, nominees must answer questions focusing on student success, collaboration, continuous learning, and leadership. Scores are compiled and averaged to determine the level of recognition nominees will receive (Excellence, Merit, or Recognition).

Teachers scoring at the Award of Excellence level become finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year.

The Illinois 2007-2008 Teacher of the Year will be announced during the 'Those Who Excel' awards banquet Saturday, October 13, 2007, at the Decatur Conference and Convention Center. The Teacher of the Year represents Illinois at 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 ING.

The 2006-2007 Illinois Teacher of the Year is Joe Fatheree who teaches technology at Effingham High School in Effingham Unit 40 School District.

Illinois Teacher of the Year Finalists

Patricia Adamatis is an Adapted Physical Education Teacher at Naperville Central High School in Naperville.

Deborah Keeven teaches third-grade at New Douglas Mid-Elementary School in New Douglas.

Renae Kraetsch, from Einstein Elementary School in Hanover Park, is a reading recovery teacher.

Bonnie Lapen is a second grade teacher at Northmoor Edison Primary School in Peoria.

Ruth Meissen teaches Art to seventh and eighth grade students at Harlem Middle School in Loves Park.

Paul Ritter, of Pontiac Township High School in Pontiac, teaches science.

Laura Stoppek is an AP Psychology and AP US History teacher at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.

Jan Wiggs teaches second grade at Freeburg Primary Center in Freeburg.

Nominations for 'Those Who Excel' may be made by administrators, teachers, parents, students, or any person who knows an outstanding educator. Nomination packets for the 2008-2009 Those Who Excel/Illinois Teacher of the Year program will be distributed in January.