#EOTY42 Week 5: Meet 9 Stellar Educators from St. Charles, Batavia, East Aurora and U-46
- 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.
The Educator of the Year Awards is only a few short days away! With a few days left, let’s take a look at the final nine nominees. Below you will find the final nine nominees from St. Charles 303, Batavia 101, East Aurora 131, and District U-46.
One of the 44 nominees will be chosen this Friday, April 28, 2017, as Educator of the Year. The event will recognize not only these amazing nominees, but also the outstanding impacts that educators are having in Kane County. The event will be at 5:30pm and tickets can be purchased from your local district office.
Make sure to be a part of the conversation on social media the night of by using the hashtag #EOTY42!
Have you ever wondered how all the sporting events at a school get organized? They all go through athletic directors like Mike Sommerfeld, a champion of St. Charles’ student athletes.
For the past five years, Sommerfeld has been the director of athletics at St. Charles East High School. Sommerfeld and his office are responsible for scheduling and planning more than 1,100 sporting events each year.
“Part of what is great about athletics is that it gives students an opportunity to become part of a team,” he said. “A lot of students love being able to be a part of a team and create fond memories of their high school experience.”
Mary Jensen from Alice Gustafson Elementary School — Nominated for Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Whiles students need physical exercise to keep their bodies healthy, they also need to find ways to exercise their brains. Mary Jensen uses music to help students in Batavia do exactly that.
Jensen has been the music teacher at Alice Gustafson Elementary School for 16 years. In her classroom, she gives students the opportunity to learn how to make music, creating sounds and rhythms that exercise their minds.
“When the students can feel that happy connection to school and a teacher, they are able to look back on the positive connection, and maybe it will help them later in their lives,” she said.
If you walk into Lauren Klinsky’s classroom during one of her many STEM education days, you’ll see students experimenting with virtual reality headsets, programming robots with tablets, and even making items with a 3D printer.
Klinsky has been teaching fifth grade at Beaupre Elementary School in East Aurora for 11 years. Her passion for creating a learning environment full of new technology opportunities for her students is driven by a desire to give her students everything they need to succeed.
“I’ve always thought about different ways that I could make a difference,” she said. “Knowing that I have made a difference in so many students’ lives is the best part about being these students’ teacher.”
Debra Brannon from St. Charles North High School — Nominated for Educational Support Personnel of the Year
Anyone who knows an administrative assistant understands that they are some of the hardest working people in a school, and Debra Brannon is no different. She is devoted to enhancing students’ school experience, and she has done that in a variety of roles.
Brannon has been working at St. Charles North High School since it opened in 2000. She has been the receptionist, secretary, and is now the administrative assistant to the athletic director.
“I always make sure to ask the students how their games went to make sure they get recognition of their athletics,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about. We’re here to make the students feel special.
Cindy Mieland from JB Nelson Elementary School — Nominated for Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Walking into Cindy Mieland’s classroom, you can see vitality and enthusiasm in everything she does. Her energy grows with her students’ energy, and that is one of the many reasons she has been nominated for elementary school teacher of the year.
Mieland is in her 27th year of teaching at JB Nelson Elementary School in Batavia, where she presently teaches kindergarten. She always makes sure to understand how students are progressing and helps them set goals.
“Kids are curious by nature,” she said. “So, creating an environment that allows them to create and explore makes learning fun for them and helps them be excited to learn.”
How well can you read braille? Shirley Appler can, and it’s one of the many skills she brings to her classroom every day.
Appler is a vision paraeducator at Elgin High School. She has been working with several blind students and assisting them with adapting curriculum and learning life skills over the years.
“We want to get them out there, making friends, doing social activates, and other things that will help them succeed and look good on their college resumes,” she said. “It’s just such a proud moment to see the smile on their faces when they accomplish something they never thought they could do.”
For Sharon Young, teaching is all about filling in the missing pieces of the puzzle for a student. Through her rapport with students, she is able to learn what these pieces are and how to help them fit in their education.
Young has been teaching at St. Charles East High School for the past nine years as a special education English and writing teacher. A core part of her teaching philosophy is that the students and teacher come together to help create the best possible learning environment.
“I think we are building relationships with students, and it helps them feel like it’s their job as well,” she said. “I think that is what makes East so amazing. It’s always we, never I.”
Being a school counselor, Lisa Cole wears many hats. One hour she could be helping a student with sending off a college application, and they next she could be helping a student talk through some issues he or she is experiencing at home.
Cole has been a counselor at St. Charles East High School for eight years. One of the best parts of her job, she says, is having the opportunity to work with students for the entirety of their high school career.
“Part of what I love about being a counselor is that I get to interact with students from their freshman to senior year,” Cole said. “From where they start and where they end, they’re never the same and it is exciting to see that growth.”
As a school administrator, Suzanne Johnson has a lot on her plate. Each day, she walks into the district office determined to find new ways to support the students of U-46.
For the past four years, Suzanne Johnson been working at U-46 as the assistant superintendent for yeaching and learning. Before that, she was the principal at Bartlett High School.
“Our students are only going to have one April 3, 2017,” she said on the day of our meeting. “So I think it’s upon all of us to provide the best April 3 we can. All of those days add up in your education, and we want them all to be as special as possible.”
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
- Week 4: Meet 9 Shining Educators from D300, Kaneland 302, Central 301, and East Aurora 131
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.