For Immediate Release
September 14, 2011

ISBE Announces Finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year

2011-12 Illinois Teacher of the Year to be announced Oct. 22

SPRINGFIELD-The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today nine finalists for the 2011-12 Illinois Teacher of the Year. The finalists represent schools across the state and are selected from nominees through ISBE’s 'Those Who Excel' educator recognition program.

“Everyday these eight teachers encourage, support and engage students in learning,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Illinois is fortunate to have many, many outstanding teachers who are committed to helping students achieve and succeed. The teachers who have been chosen as finalists represent the best of the best, and this program enables us to publicly recognize them for their dedication to education.”

Approximately 175 nominations were reviewed this year by a selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners.

Each nomination is individually reviewed and scored three times. Nominations are scored based on personal background information, the nominating recommendation and letters of support from colleagues, parents and students. In addition, nominees must respond to 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 earning an Award of Excellence are finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year.

The 2011-12 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced during the Those Who Excel banquet Oct. 22, 2011 at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. The Teacher of the Year will represent Illinois at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year Program.

Annice Brave is the 2010-11 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Annice is an English and journalism teacher at Alton High School in Alton Community Unit School District 11. She was one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year this past spring.

Here are this year’s finalists:

Carol BivensCarol Bivins is a Title 1 Reading first grade teacher at P.H. Miller Elementary School in Plano Community Unit School District 88.

Sandra CurranSandra Curran teaches social studies and language arts to sixth-graders at Lincoln Middle School in Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7.

Melissa ByrneMelissa Byrne teaches eighth grade language arts at Haines Middle School in Community Unit District 303 (St. Charles).

Julie KnutsonJulie Knutson is a career and technical education teacher at O’Fallon Township High School in O’Fallon Township High School District 203.

Jeffrey LehmanJeffrey Lehman teaches choral music at Freeport High School in Freeport School District 145.

Carol MertesCarol Mertes is a first grade teacher at Clifford Johnson School in East Aurora School District 131.

Josh StumpenhorstJosh Stumpenhorst teaches language arts and social science to sixth-graders at Lincoln Junior High School in Naperville Community School District 203.

Rebecca WattleworthRebecca Wattleworth is a math and science teacher at Warrensburg-Latham High School in Warrensburg-Latham Community Unit District 11.

Rebecca WattleworthNancy Wojtanowski teaches Functional/Living Skills to students in K-5 at Parkside Elementary School in McLean County Unit District 5.

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