For Immediate Release
October 26, 2009

Kevin Rutter named 2009-10 Illinois Teacher of the Year

Carl Schurz High School teacher is new ambassador for education

PEORIA – Kevin Rutter, an Economics teacher at Carl Schurz High School in Chicago has been named Illinois Teacher of the Year. Rutter was chosen from 10 finalists at the 35th annual Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year banquet Saturday in Peoria. The Chicago teacher was among more than 150 honored Saturday as part of the state’s educator recognition program.

“Kevin’s enthusiasm for teaching really shines through and sets him apart,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Kevin demonstrates a true understanding of the needs of his students which is evident in his dedication to help them succeed both academically and in their extra-curricular pursuits. He holds his students and himself to high standards and will be an excellent representative of our teachers across the state.”

Kevin Rutter - Illinois 2009-10 Teacher of the YearKevin, a teacher for 11 years, cited his love of learning, his high school history teacher’s intellect and wit and his grandfather’s generosity as factors that have shaped and guided him as a teacher. Kevin said his high school history teacher first planted the notion that Kevin might be suited for teaching and his grandfather inspired him by preaching and practicing the idea that giving of one’s self allows a person to find their true purpose.

Perhaps the biggest surprise Kevin experienced as a teacher was his ability to communicate with teenagers, a skill he may have honed as a middle child who often bridged the communication gap between his older and younger siblings. Whatever the origin, Kevin’s personality and skills foster a trust in the classroom that facilitate and enhance the learning experience.

In her nominating letter, Schurz Principal Mary Ann C. Folino called Rutter a leader at the school and a teacher who goes “well beyond the usual expectations for a teacher.”

“In the classroom, Kevin ensures that his students are constantly challenged,” Folino wrote.“ His lectures are dynamic and always include current events and popular culture to underline the relevance of the work to the lives and times of his students.”

Kevin uses multi-media and best-sellers such as Freakonomics and The Flat World in his daily lessons. He also practices what he preaches, telling students that he doesn’t own a car because cars depreciate, making them bad investments. Kevin has made many connections in the business community to provide his students with internship and job shadow opportunities and he leads frequent field trips to Chicago’s Financial District.

As coach of the Debate Team, Kevin spends many hours after school and on weekends working with his students.  Students have said Mr. Rutter engages them in long and useful discussions to help refine their ideas but he ensures the arguments used on the team belong strictly to the students.

Kevin earned his Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Illinois University and his Master of Arts in Urban Life Learning:Chicago Studies, from Loyola University Chicago.

Nearly 175 nominations were reviewed and scored three times by a selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers, school board members, representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and former Illinois Teachers of the Year.

The finalists are interviewed and videotaped and those interviews are scored again by the selection committee before making a final recommendation. Principals, faculty, parents and students submit letters on behalf of candidates as part of the nomination process.

As Illinois Teacher of the Year, Kevin will have opportunities to share his knowledge and expertise outside the classroom.  Beginning in the 2010 spring semester, Kevin will be available to speak at teaching workshops, educational conferences, and civic/community meetings. He will receive a lifetime tuition waiver to state universities and will represent Illinois at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and ING.  Kevin will also receive products from SMARTer Kids.