For Immediate Release
September 9, 2013

ISBE Announces Finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year

2013-14 Illinois Teacher of the Year to be announced Oct. 19

SPRINGFIELD – Eleven teachers from across the state have been selected as finalists in the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual “Those Who Excel,” educator recognition program. The winner will be announced during an October banquet in Normal that celebrates the contributions and accomplishments of nearly 200 educators and school personnel from throughout the Prairie State. 

“These eleven teachers are excellent representatives of Illinois’ many enthusiastic and passionate educators who are leading our children and schools,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “They consistently create new strategies that keep students engaged and excited about learning and achieving. We are pleased to have this opportunity to publicly recognize their efforts and thank them for their commitment to Illinois’ students.”

A selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners reviewed approximately 200 nominations this year.

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 one of three levels of recognition: Excellence, Merit or Recognition.

Teachers earning an Award of Excellence are finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year. Illinois has named a state Teacher of the Year since the mid 1950’s. In 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education became involved in the Teacher of the Year selection, and the first banquet was held in 1974. During the 1980’s, ISBE began adding other categories so that educators in a variety of positions could be publicly acknowledged for their efforts. The Early Career Educator became the most recent addition in 2006.

Brian Curtin is the 2013-2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Brian teaches English at Schaumburg High School in Township High School District 211.

“This has definitely been a life-changing and career-changing experience because of all the people that I’ve met, specifically teachers, students and community members,” Curtin said. “What I found really rejuvenating was the collective passion and desire to do what’s best for kids. It was really eye-opening for me and something I wish all teachers could see and experience.”

The 2013-14 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced during the Those Who Excel banquet Saturday, Oct. 19 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.

Here are this year’s finalists:

Christine AdrianJohn Bierbaum teaches U.S. History, World History and Psychology at Normal Community West High School in McLean County Unit School District 5.

Julie BredenMark Buesing is a science and physics teacher at Libertyville High School in Community High School District 128 in Vernon Hills.

Andrew ConneenAmanda Dearmond teaches reading and Language Arts to 7th and 8th grade students at DuQuoin Middle School in DuQuoin Community Unit District 300.

Brian CurtinWilliam Fritz is a Communication Arts teacher at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Adlai E. Stevenson High School District 125 in Lincolnshire.

Robert LangDeLores Mannes teaches Language Arts to 6th grade students at Parker Junior High School in Flossmoor School District 161.

Michael LawyerKerry (Fran) Meyers is a math, science and Ancient Civilizations teacher of 6th grade students at Brimfield Grade School in Brimfield Community Unit School District 309.

Linda RagsdalePam Reilly teaches second grade at Woodbury Elementary School in Sandwich Community Unit School District 430.

Elyse SmithSina Rowe is a kindergarten to third grade Special Education teacher at Goshen Elementary School in Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7.

Pamela SteeleAaron Sitze teaches English at Oregon High School in Oregon Community Unit School District 220.

Pamela SteeleAmy Walsh is a fourth grade teacher at Tioga School in Bensenville Elementary School District 2.

Pamela SteeleDonna Whitaker teaches science to 7th graders at West Junior High School in Belleville District 118.

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