Pam Reilly, second-grade teacher at Woodbury Elementary in Sandwich, is among the 11 teachers from across the state selected as finalists in the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual “Those Who Excel,” educator recognition program. The winner will be announced during the Oct. 19 banquet in Normal that celebrates the contributions and accomplishments of nearly 200 educators and school personnel statewide.
“These 11 teachers are excellent representatives of Illinois’ many enthusiastic and passionate educators who are leading our children and schools,” Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico said in a news release. “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 1950s. 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 1980s, ISBE began adding other categories so educators in a variety of positions could be publicly acknowledged for their efforts. The early career educator became the most recent addition in 2006.
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.
Along with Reilly, finalists include John Bierbaum, history and psychology teacher at Normal Community West High School in Normal; Mark Buesing, science and physics teacher at Libertyville High School in Vernon Hills; Amanda Dearmond, reading and language arts teacher at DuQuoin Middle School in DuQuoin; William Fritz, a communication arts teacher at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire; DeLores Mannes, sixth-grade language arts teacher at Parker Junior High School in Flossmoor; Kerry (Fran) Meyers, sixth-grade math, science and ancient civilizations teacher at Brimfield Grade School in Brimfield; Sina Rowe, kindergarten to third-grade special education teacher at Goshen Elementary School in Edwardsville; Aaron Sitze, English teacher at Oregon High School in Oregon; Amy Walsh, fourth-grade teacher at Tioga School in Bensenville; and Donna Whitaker, seventh-grade science teacher at West Junior High School in Belleville.