Trophies for Educator of the Year 2013. Photo Credit Martin Pinnau

#40EOTY Week 1: Meet 6 Amazing Kane County ‘Educator of the Year’ Nominees

For the next seven weeks, each Wednesday the Kane County Regional Office of Education will be highlighting the 44 inspirational nominees for the Educator of the Year award ceremony. In addition to Educator of the Year, awards presented on May 1 will include the categories of Elementary Educator, Middle School Educator, High School Educator, School Administrator, Student Support Personnel, Early Career Educator, and Educational Service Personnel.

The following educators, administrators and support staff have been nominated and recognized as leaders in their education-related fields by their students, colleagues and supervisors.

head shotCaryn Spitzzeri from Kaneland Harter Middle School – Nominated for Educational Service Personnel of the Year

Caryn began her career as a cardiovascular technologist and ultrasonographer at North Western Memorial Hospital, but after relocating to Elburn, stayed home with her family and actively volunteered within the Kaneland School District. After years of substitute teaching, the assistant principal at Harter Middle School offered her a full-time position as a paraprofessional in 2004. Her colleagues that nominated her consistently mention her kind heart and hard-working character, while her students note her patience and dedication to assisting their needs.


Dedic_CurtCurt Dedic from Jacobs High School – Nominated for Early Career Educator of the Year

As high school science teacher, Curt is described as having a knack for connecting with the students and fostering their critical adult minds, while reminding them that play is not just for little children. He is the coordinator for Jacobs High School’s participation in the Illinois Junior Academy of Science Fair and has coached more than 250 students in two years. His nomination booklet notes that he assists students with science that are not in his class, and goes beyond Jacobs High School by working at the district level and within the community.


079Zach Sipes from East Aurora High School – Nominated for Early Career Educator of the Year

Since 2011, Zach has been challenging himself to improve his professional growth at East Aurora High School as a math teacher. For instance, he teaches a night class that is dedicated to credit recovery to help students graduate. Although a difficult task for any student, Zach approaches this with excitement to engage them using different strategies to help them pass. He also teaches a class at 6:50 a.m., before the start of school, so that students can catch up in credits and graduate on time. His nomination booklet mentions that his patience and commitment to working with students leads to their individual success and the improvement of the math department at East Aurora High School.


Sherry Head Shot 1

Sherry Douglas from Westfield Community School – Nominated for Middle School Teacher of the Year

Like many of the nominees for the Educator of the Year, Sherry is the first to enter the school in the morning and one of the last to leave in the evening. Her dedication as a science teacher to her students is remarked as tireless. Not only are her science labs and curriculum intriguing, but Sherry is noted to be extremely involved with assisting students outside of the classroom. She goes to great lengths to find resources for students in need, like winter clothing, and health care and mental health programs. Sherry also sets the bar high by sharing lesson plans and leaving encouraging voice mails for her co-workers and staff. She is described by her nomination booklet as being dependable, a solid resource, and a pleasure to work with on many levels.

IMG_4671Martne McCoy from Blackberry Creek Elementary School – Nominated for School Administrator of the Year

Starting as a teacher, Martne has enjoyed her transition to the administrative side of education and now serves as the principal in the Kaneland School District. Although it is only her second year at this elementary school, she credits her success to the positive learning community that her staff, students and parents provide. She quotes Seneca the Younger when reflecting on her career path: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Martne believes that her current administrative journey may not have been her initial plan before college, but played out because of her devotion to enriching young minds within education. Throughout her nomination booklet, Martne’s nominators continually comment on her attention to detail while maintaining a positive learning environment for all students and staff.

Headshot GarrisonLora Garrison from School District 300 – Nominated for Educational Service Personnel of the Year

Quoted as the “cornerstone to her family and the human resources department of CUSD 300,” Lora has provided 22 years of patience and support to staff and students. A notable photograph featured in her nomination booklet is one of her car, in an otherwise empty parking lot, flooded with water. Below the caption reads, “Typical Lora Garrison! No one is at work because of the flooding, but nothing will keep Lora away!” In her spare time, she has served as a volunteer tutor, fund-raiser, Girl Scout leader and many other leadership roles. Lora’s nomination booklet states has been an active role model for her family, students, and everyone that is fortunate to know her.

Join the Celebration

Leading up to the event, the Kane County ROE is encouraging the use of #40EOTY on social media. Stay tuned to learn more about these influential leaders in our community!