- For the 43rd annual Educator of the Year ceremony, 41 nominees will be honored in an Olympics-themed event on May 4 at the Q Center in St. Charles. Follow the excitement on social media using #EOTY43 and #leadassistinspire. Tickets for the event can be purchased by contacting your local school district office.
It’s Week 2 of #EOTY43!
Below you will find eight Educator of the Year nominees from Kaneland 302, St. Charles 303, and Geneva 304 — teachers, administrators and support staff who have been nominated and recognized as leaders in their education-related fields by their students, colleagues, and supervisors.
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.
We hope you enjoy reading the biographies of these amazing people who lead, assist, and inspire each day they walk into their school.
Katie Reilley From Blackberry Creek Elementary School — Nominated for Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Reading stories with students is a staple of teaching in an elementary school, and it is the favorite part of Katie Reilley’s day. Walking into her classroom, you can see a plethora of books on shelves, posters of books on the walls, and even a daily reading calendar.
Reilley is the reading and writing teacher for fourth- and fifth-grade classes at Blackberry Creek Elementary School in Kaneland and has been part of the teaching community for 21 years. In her position, she has the opportunity to share her love of reading with students every day.
“Every kid should have the opportunity to see themselves is a book,” Reilley shared. “I try and read a variety of genres and books by different authors so that kids can feel that they’re a part of each story.”
It can be easy to think that an English class would be focused just on grammar and reading books, but if Rachel Giles is your teacher, English class is so much more. Students in her class are focusing on research skills and rhetorical analysis in tandem with their curriculum.
For four years, Giles has been an English teacher at Kaneland High School. She knew she wanted to be a teacher and was inspired by her own teachers in high school to become an English teacher.
“I try and make it as relatable to their own lives as I possibly can,“ she said. “For example, I have three sections of juniors and customize each class to what they need and are interested in.”
Gina Di Palermo From Lincoln Elementary School — Nominated for Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Talking with Gina Di Palermo, it is easy to see her passion for reading and how she wants to spread that passion to the students she works with each day. In her role, she has the opportunity to foster the love of reading that all students have.
Di Palermo has been teaching for 12 years and is the reading specialist at Lincoln Elementary School in St. Charles. This is her fourth year teaching at Lincoln Elementary, and her favorite part of her job is seeing students and their growing passion for reading.
“I have to connect with kids first,” Di Palermo said. “I want my students to feel that they are cared about because that opens them up to take risks and to learn.”
Walking the hallways of St. Charles East, you can hear Lisa Dandre talking with students and saying a famous phrase that she is known for: “You can join a club at East.” Helping students get involved in school is one of her passions.
As the assistant principal for student life at St. Charles East High School, Dandre is focused on making the school and all of its students and staff feel like a family. She has worked in education for 26 years and has become a staple of the St. Charles East community.
“Meaningful relationships are what I believe in,“ Dandre shared. “If you can make students feel comfortable, you will see their best self, and then you can meet them where they’re at and take them as far as you can take them.”
Picture your fantasy museum. What exhibits would you put in it? Creating that museum is what Kyle Libberton has the opportunity to do with students each day he walks into school.
Libberton is a history and psychology teacher at St. Charles East High School and has taught there for nine years. One of the many reasons he loves teaching history and psychology is seeing students awaken their civic mind.
“The more I can get students involved in creating and designing that day’s lesson, the better it is,” he said. “That’s the culture and mentality of education. You want to have that collaboration of ideas.”
Brittany Bailey-Cole From Geneva High School — Nominated for Educational Service Personnel of the Year
When you meet Brittany Bailey-Cole, you can see her passion for working with students by how she motivates them in difficult times. She is always encouraging students to keep on trying.
Bailey-Cole has been a paraprofessional at Geneva High School for eight years. In her work, she assists students who have an individualized learning plan. She also makes it a goal to assist anyone in the classroom.
“As a paraprofessional, I’m in some classes to work with specific students, but I never single those students out,” she shared. “I always try to help any student that needs help in the classroom.”
When she was in first grade, Corinne Laird already knew that she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. She adored her teachers and the ways that they impacted her personally and wanted to have that same opportunity to impact students.
Laird is working her dream job as an English teacher at Geneva High School, where she gets to have those meaningful interactions with students each day. She is known for incorporating her students’ interests into her teaching of various topics, including British literature.
“The experiences with students are the absolute best part of my job,” Laird said. “Just getting to learn what interests my students and bring that into the classroom to better engage them in my lessons is exciting.”
Katie Kennath From Harrison Street Elementary School — Nominated for Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Have you ever had an experience where you knew you were doing what you were born to do? Katie Kennath has such an experience when she started teaching. Right from the first day, she knew that she found her passion and where she needed to be.
Kennath is an accelerated classroom teacher at Harrison Street Elementary School in Geneva and is in her 19th year. Her curiosity and high energy make her a perfect fit for elementary school.
“Learning never ends,” she shared. “My students ask me questions all the time, and if I don’t know something, we look it up together. Their curiosity and love of life has really inspired me as a teacher.”
Check Out The Other 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.