With only one day left until the Educator of the Year award ceremony, here is a glimpse into the careers of the last (but not least!) seven nominees. Below you will find representatives from St. Charles District 303, East Aurora 131, and U46 in the high school, middle school, educational service, student support and administrator categories.
One of the 29 nominees will be chosen tomorrow — April 29, 2016 — as Educator of the Year and will be presented with a $3,000 grant for her or his school district.
“This evening is not only to honor our 29 distinguished educators, but to recognize all of Kane County’s outstanding education initiatives,” said Regional Superintendent Patricia Dal Santo. “With an entertaining super hero themed presentation with music covering the last 40 years, this surely will be a night to remember.”
Even if you are not able to attend, join in and stay up to date on Twitter with the hashtag #41EOTY tomorrow evening.
Kurt Dobbeck from South Elgin High School – Nominated for High School Teacher of the Year
In 2006, Dobbeck was selected to build the South Elgin High School band program from the ground up when the building was opened in 2005. Since then, he has instilled a love of music within thousands of students that have entered into his classroom.
“The band program and the Marching Storm has become a core of spirit for South Elgin High School,” wrote an administrator. “Kurt Dobbeck, while he would not take credit for such an accomplishment, has been the inspiration to the students who also embrace that spirit and perform with the same pride that he embraces every day.”
Being able to command the attention of 200 kids by blowing a whistle is just one of the examples of the rapport Dobbeck has with his students.
“It doesn’t matter what the kids are doing. They stop and look forward and I swear you can hear a needle drop,” wrote one of the chaperones from a band trip to Disney World. “While in Disney, Mr. Dobbeck was praised on how well the band behaved the entire trip.”
Although it is evident that Dobbeck values and appreciates every musician at every level, he mentioned his most famous student has been Patrick Stump, front man and songwriter of the band Fallout Boy.
Joan Barley from St. Charles East High School – Nominated for Educational Service Personnel of the Year
With responsibilities including the master schedule, report cards, parent-teacher conferences, and driver’s education information, Barley is the go-to person for administrators, teachers and parents.
After 26 years as the student information specialist, Barley is also recognized for her ability to keep up with changing technology. From software to hardware, Barley is considered to be a tech expert that the entire staff utilizes. “She is able to solve some of the most obscure, but important problems,” wrote one of her nominators.
“On the very rare occasion that she can’t immediately provide an answer or solution, she always has a source with whom she can consult,” noted another supporter. “She is always patient and kind, no matter how busy she is or how long the line of teachers is at grading time.”
Christine Hitt from St. Charles North High School – Nominated for Student Support Personnel of the Year
As a registered nurse, Hitt’s career began in the labor and delivery unit at the Methodist Medical Center of Illinois, where she spent 10 years. After moving to St. Charles to raise her family, she began working at North High School, assisting students and teachers with their health.
In the nurse’s office, one would assume that you’d run into a student with the flu or a cold, but it is not uncommon to find Hitt calmly addressing many other needs of the students.
“I have a seen Chris calmly talking to student as they come into the office because they require immediate medical care,” shared a social worker from North. “She is often asked to assist students who are experiencing severe anxiety of depressive symptoms.”
As a reliable medical professional who knows her job extremely well, all who come to the nurse’s office are treated with respect and dedication.
“Chris is a hardworking nurse,” someone wrote in her nomination booklet. “Along with being sensitive and understanding, she also knows how to support students every day.
Sherrill Dodson-Lewis from Waldo Middle School – Nominated for Student Support Personnel of the Year
Following in her father’s footsteps, Dodson-Lewis joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating from high school. She held service-related jobs that required her to work with government and civilian agencies, and realized her true calling was empowering individuals to be the best that they could be.
Serving as a school social worker, Dodson-Lewis’ nomination materials insist that she helps the administration and teachers just as much as the students.
“Sherrill showed me what it was like to truly know students and support them holistically,” wrote a colleague. “It is this deeper understanding of the human-need that has Sherrill serving others with joy, respect, care, compassion, and dedication.”
Having worked and lived in Aurora since 2000, Dodson-Lewis has built relationships with many families and greatly enjoys reconnecting with them in the community. Her greatest satisfaction is when a parent or former student remembers her or how she helped them.
Brian Moran from Streamwood High School – Nominated for School Administrator of the Year
When it came time for Moran to decide what he wanted to study in college, he recalls having a very important and life-hanging conversation with his uncle.
“He asked me questions like, ‘What career path will you love 20 years from today?’ and my responses took me back to high school,” Moran said. “There were so many things that I loved, and there were so many supportive people, so I began my journey into education.”
Team and family have always played a role in Moran’s life. As a teacher, he tried to make classes meaningful, interactive and enjoyable for all students. After teaching math for seven years at Streamwood, he was offered a position as the associate principal.
“The best thing about Mr. Moran is that even though he has the leadership of an administrator, he also has the abilities of a teacher,” explained a current student. “I’ve been working in the main office for three years, always working on my daily math assignments. Mr. Moran could tell from across the office that I would be struggling, and without even asking for help, he would be at my side ready to assist.”
Holly Yee from Ellis Middle School – Nominated for Middle School Teacher of the Year
For Yee’s students, success has always when pairing classroom learning and real-world applications. She developed her love of environmental sciences by spending time in Wallops Island, VA, working side by side with marine scientists in high school.
“Integrating real world experiences with the curriculum makes learning meaningful and helps build a foundation for my students to be responsible for their own learning,” explained Yee.
Within her nomination book, at least half of the pages are filled with photos or newspaper clippings of her students outside the classroom. From wading through knee-deep water to identifying prairie grasses, Yee’s students are active community members in Elgin.
“By using the community as a classroom, Mrs. Yee’s approach to education separates her from other teachers and should be considered best practice,” explained a city administrator. “Mrs. Yee and her students helped design, name, and build Trillium Natural Park, that directly benefits the neighborhood.”
Ryan Colton from St. Charles North High School – Nominated for High School Teacher of the Year
Colton is described as one of those teachers that is able to build trust and connections with even the most challenging students. He believes that identifying student’s triggers for their behavior is what allows him to help students academically in his English and theater classes.
“I love listening to students, even when they are frustrated with the class, or even me,” he explained. “It gives me the perspective I need as their teacher to get as close to their own understanding as possible.”
Countless letters of recommendations fill his book and from current and former students that believe Colton left a lasting impression on them.
“Mr. Colton came into my life at the most vital time of my adolescence and genuinely cared about my academics and my mental well-being,” a former student wrote. “He is the theatre professor that changed my life.”
Another student echoed Ryan’s impactful leaderships techniques.
“He challenged me to make my own decisions as an actor. Whereas many teachers of youth theater would dimply demonstrate exactly how they want you to say the lines, Mr. Colton would push for a true understanding of the subtext,” another student shared.
Meet the Other Nominees:
- #41EOTY Week 1: Meet 8 Super-Hero ‘Educator of the Year’ Nominee
- #41EOTY Week 2: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane! It’s 7 Super-Hero ‘Educator of the Year’ Nominees!
- #41EOTY Week 3: Up, Up & Away! It’s 7 Super-Hero ‘Educator of the Year’ Nominees!
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.