For Immediate Release
October 21, 2013

Illinois State Board of Education Announces the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year

Second Grade Teacher Pam Reilly of Woodbury Elementary School in Sandwich CUSD 430 Selected From 11 Finalists

Brian CurtinNORMAL – The Illinois State Board of Education named a second grade teacher from Sandwich Community Unit School District 430 as the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year. One of 11 finalists, Pam Reilly of Woodbury Elementary was announced as this year’s top educator during Saturday night’s 39th annual Those Who Excel/Illinois Teacher of the Year banquet in Normal.

“Pam’s passion for teaching and her enthusiasm for helping her students succeed is so genuine and sincere that students are immediately drawn to her,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “She really inspires her students, their parents and her colleagues and I’m confident Pam will be an excellent representative of Illinois teachers.”

Now in her 12th year of teaching, Pam is recognized as a collaborator and a leader by her colleagues in the Sandwich district, home of six schools serving more than 2,300 students in northern Illinois. She seeks advice and guidance from teachers in the higher grades so that she can help her students be prepared for the challenges they will face after they leave her classroom.

Colleague and third grade teacher Doni Morgan says Pam is “the perfect blend of light heartedness and commitment.” Pam stresses that students are in control of their own learning and that although she may do the planning and preparation for the school day, it is the students who are doing the important work.

Pam understands the importance of addressing a child’s social, emotional as well as academic needs. She advocates for hungry students, those with absent parents, financially stressed families and students who need to be more challenged. Pam believes that all children, regardless of their circumstances, can thrive and learn.

A graduate of Aurora University with a Bachelor of Science in education, Pam also holds a Master of Education from National-Louis University. She is a continuous participant in all types of professional development and is constantly researching and planning engaging and relevant lessons.

During reading exercises, Pam likes to use different voices and personas for specific characters and books. Her students instantly recognize which book they are about to read based on Pam’s voice and they get ready to learn.

A former second grade student describes Pam’s teaching in this way: “She kept us focused so we wouldn’t think of the things we didn’t need to know. She taught us the things we do need to know,” the student wrote in her nominating letter. “Mrs. Reilly also kept us motivated. She made us very intelligent.”

More than 180 nominations for Those Who Excel were reviewed and scored three times by a selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers and school board members. Principals, faculty, parents and students submit letters on behalf of candidates as part of the nomination process.

The 11 finalists for Teacher of the Year were interviewed and videotaped, and those interviews were scored again before going to State Superintendent Koch for a final decision.

As Illinois Teacher of the Year, Pam will have opportunities to share her knowledge and expertise outside the classroom. Beginning in the 2014 spring semester, Pam will be available to speak at teaching workshops, educational conferences and community meetings. She 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, ING and Target. Reilly will also receive products from SMARTer Kids.

A photograph of Illinois Teacher of the Year Pam Reilly is available for download online at


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