#EOTY42 Week 4: Meet 9 Shining Educators from D300, Kaneland 302, Central 301, and East Aurora 131
- At the 42nd annual Educator of the Year ceremony, 44 nominees will be honored in an ’80s-themed event on April 28 at the Q Center in St. Charles. Follow the excitement on social media using #EOTY42 and #leadassistinspire.
It’s already Week 4 of #EOTY42, and the Educator of the Year Awards is next week, so make sure to contact your local school district office for tickets to the event.
Below you will find nominees from District 300, Kaneland 302, Central 301, and East Aurora 131 — teachers, administrators and support staff who have been nominated and recognized as leaders in their education-related fields by their students, colleagues, and supervisors.
Did you ever have a teacher who went above and beyond in illustrating a point? Sarah Sheppard is one of those teachers. Multiple times a year she dresses up as characters when teaching lessons to help make a memorable learning experience for her students.
Sheppard has taught first and second grade at Cambridge Lakes Charter School for five years. She is constantly looking for unique ways to help her students remember information and get them more involved in their learning.
“Students need to know that you’re invested in not only their learning, but their lives,” she said. “When they know this, they will also give you much more of themselves as a student, and that helps build that strong teacher-student relationship.”
As a teacher, one thing you need to be aware of is that each student has a different learning style. And discovering the individual learning style of each student is one of Mike Schmidt’s great strengths.
Schmidt has taught social studies at Burlington-Central High School for the past 26 years. He is a Burlington Rocket to the core and has been a member of the community since he was a high school student at Burlington-Central.
“When I teach, it’s not just about what’s in the book,” he said. “I try to help students see that learning isn’t just about education and standards, but about life lessons, as well.”
A great teacher has to have compassion. But a great administrator has to have compassion and empathy for students, as well, and the quality of Kathy Webster’s compassion is the foundation of her success.
Webster is an assistant principal at both John Stewart Elementary School and Blackberry Creek Elementary School. Many of her colleagues will tell you that she is always there as a supportive force for teachers, students, and other administrators.
“I think that we truly have the compassion and the love of the kids at the core of Kaneland in general,” she said. “My philosophy is that all kids can grow, and we try to cultivate that in the environment.”
Walk into Amy O’Herron’s classroom, and you’ll see her talking with students about school and their personal lives. The way she forms these relationships seems like second nature, and any observer can tell she genuinely cares about her students.
O’Herron is one of the sixth-grade math teachers at Carpentersville Middle School. Over the course of her time at Carpentersville Middle School, she has been able to develop a strong rapport with her colleagues and students through class time and extracurriculars.
“Although the students often come with baggage, they develop a connection with us as teachers,” she said. “We want to make sure that we can offer them a place where they feel like they are welcome and respected.”
Have you ever thought about the importance of life skills and how you learned to do important tasks, like balance a checkbook or cook? If you know Candice Coleman, then you know how important it is to her to teach students these skills.
Coleman has been working at Central High School for the past 10 years as a special-education teacher. She presently teaches a life-skills class in which students learn shopping, cooking, cleaning and more.
“One of my goals with students is to find ways to help them become leaders,” she said “As long as I can find something to include in the lesson plan to help them be that leader, that’s my motivation to come to work the next day.”
Tests are a normal part of education, as they show how a student is progressing. But being a Response-To-Intervention coordinator is much more than just looking at test scores — it’s working collaboratively to make sure each student has the resources he or she needs to be successful.
And that’s where Laurie Villalobos comes in.
Villalobos has spent the past five years at Harter Middle School as the RTI coordinator. In her role, she looks at data from testing to make sure that any struggling students are given the help they need to be successful and meet rigorous state standards.
“I’m one piece to a huge team,” she said. “We want as many kids to get as much help as they can. At the same time, we want all the kids to be where they need to be and excelling.”
It’s easy to take for granted some of the basic skills we learned in our younger years. But some of these fundamental skills, like being a good listener, are essential to academic success.
That’s why parents and students are so happy to have Stephanie Thoren at deLacy Family Education Center in Carpentersville. For the past five years at deLacy, she’s helped students learn skills that they will carry through the course of their lives.
“We start with the foundational piece and try to mix in the academic piece with it,” she said. “For example, when we are sitting down on the carpet, we are working on listening rules and getting them ready to absorb the information that we are teaching.”
Frank Mendoza from Benavides Kindergarten Center — Nominated for Educational Service Personnel of the Year
Frank Mendoza does most of his work behind the scenes, but all the students in the building know him as “Mr. Mendoza,” and they’re always eager to talk with him.
Mendoza has worked at several schools in East Aurora over the past 18 years and is presently the fireperson at Benavides Kindergarten Center. As the fireperson, he is responsible for the overall maintenance of the building, from mechanicals to safety.
“Every morning I come in, I do a daily walk-through of the building to make sure that there are no safety hazards for the kids,” Mendoza said. “Even though I’m behind-the-scenes, I want to make sure that the building is a safe learning environment for the kids.”
Jamie Holubecki from Blackberry Creek Elementary School — Nominated for Elementary Teacher of the Year
Even in a health-focused society, we sometimes need to be reminded that exercise can be fun. That focus on fun is something that Jamie Holubecki is constantly talking about to her students in their physical education class.
As the PE teacher at Blackberry Creek Elementary, movement is the key focus in Holubecki’s classroom. She is always finding new ways to get students engaged in the gym and learning to have fun while exercising.
“Moving is a huge part of learning, and we obviously do a lot of moving in my classroom,” she said. “When you can do moving in the classroom, it helps students get focused and get ready for what they are going to be moving onto next.”
Checkout the other nominees:
- Week 1: Meet 9 Amazing Educators from Geneva, East Aurora, and U-46
- Week 2: Meet 8 Great Educators from West Aurora, D300, and U-46
- Week 3: Meet 9 Brilliant Educators from St. Charles, East Aurora, and Kaneland
About the Kane County Regional Office of Education
Led by Regional Superintendent of Schools Patricia Dal Santo, the Kane County ROE is located in Geneva and serves nine school districts. From teacher licensure assistance to professional development, the ROE’s mission is to advocate for education, provide leadership and perform regulatory functions. Learn more about the ROE’s offerings on Facebook, Twitter and by signing up for the semimonthly newsletter.