- For the 44th annual Educator of the Year ceremony, 36 nominees will be honored in a Marvel/Avengers themed event on May 3 at the Q Center in St. Charles. Follow the excitement on social media using #EOTY44. Tickets for the event can be purchased by contacting your local school district office or contacting the Kane County ROE.
It’s Week 2 of #EOTY44! We are less than two weeks away from the Marvel/Avengers themed event event. Below, you will find 12 more extraordinary educators from Kane County.
This week’s nominees are from District 300, Central 301, and Kaneland 302 — teachers, administrators and support staff who have been nominated and recognized as leaders in their education-related fields by their students, colleagues and supervisors.
Katherine White-Seydel from Carpentersville Middle School – Nominated for Middle School Teacher of the Year
Katherine White-Seydel is an extremely dedicated educator who is passionate about her students. White-Seyde not only provides guidance and creativity in the classroom; she provides it to many of her students through Art Club.
Through White-Seydel’s leadership as the PBIS Universal Team Leader, she has reduced the number of office discipline referrals for gang activity, physical aggression, and overall major behaviors.
“The creative types draw their energy from the kids and watching them get really involved in my projects,” White-Seydel said. “I was doing a demonstration and all this kids said it was magic, and I thought to myself: It is.”
Patricia Freeman from Algonquin Lakes Elementary – Nominated for Student Support Personnel of the Year
Patricia Freeman consistently has demonstrated superior therapy skills and techniques, the intrinsic motivation to seek continued education, and collaboration with colleagues for optimal student benefit.
Freeman’s greatest accomplishment is that she allows individuals to become verbal communicators, giving them a voice to share with the world, thereby directly impacting their life course and increasing quality of life.
“I work in an area where traditional speech therapy doesn’t work”, Freeman said. “I’m able to try my methods, get the word out, and be able to help a lot more kids.”
Rachel Rodriguez from Central High School – Nominated for Student Support Personnel of the Year
From the beginning, Rachel Rodriguez was on top of everything with her students. Rachel works diligently with her students day in and day out to make a difference in their lives.
Rodriguez is the type of person who does not settle for “good enough.” Her care and concern for the people around her filters through everything she does in the workplace as well as in her personal life.
“A great day for me would involve a student who normally struggles to get to school show up for class,” Rodriguez states. “That’s a success for me. We came up with a plan and sat down and was able to get them into school.”
David Semmen from Central High School – Nominated for High School Teacher of the Year
David Semmen actively recruits students to try out new adventures — whether it be a sport or extracurricular activity. He encourages a wide range of students to participate in sports he coaches, from basketball to football.
Semmen is everything an experienced teacher should be. He is a role model for young educators, he is passionate about his subject, he is kind and he is passionate.
“Win or lose, some of the best parts of my job are coming in contact with my former students,” he said. “It was great to find out how their lives turned out and find out that I was able to make an impact on their life — and that is a great feeling.”
Tina Scruggs from Prairie Knolls Middle School – Nominated for Middle School Teacher of the Year
Tina Scruggs has a passion for her own learning as well as for helping her students grow even beyond the walls of her classroom. Scruggs has also been able to contribute her knowledge of SEL with her colleagues, the district and Kane County.
Scruggs is always implementing best practice within her classroom and shares best practices with her colleagues. She is highly respected by her peers and administrative team. She continues to invest her skills into her chosen profession.
“Teachers are in a position to do such great things and to help our students,” she said. “It’s a very powerful position as we are responsibly for giving them the tools to be successful throughout not only in the classroom but in the real world.”
Christine Purnell from Kaneland John Stewart Elementary – Nominated for Elementary Teacher of the Year
Christine Purnell spends each summer creating a welcoming room to meet the learning demands of her upcoming active kindergartners, choosing thoughtful room design and filling it with books that students can’t wait to read.
Purnell has become the go-to teacher for help in kindergarten best practices. She serves on many committees in her time at Kaneland, including Sip and District Strategic Plan.
“Of course the teachers are expected to teach and help the students learn,” she said. “But I think at the end of the day, what is most important is making sure the kids take away a social component. No matter their grades or where they end up, I want them to feel safe and secure in my classroom.”
Susan Sensor from Kaneland Blackberry Creek – Nominated for Educational Service Personnel of the Year
Susan Sensor has a simple yet profound way of showing empathy toward all students, while still remaining neutral and professional. She fully supports her students, the school and the district.
Sensor works with the most challenging students on a daily basis but is always smiling and chatting in a positive manner. The students who work with Sensor love and respect her.
“The first kid I ever worked with was in first grade (at the time), and he just graduated from high school,” she said. “I know that he’s doing very well on his own and is very successful, so for me, I feel a satisfaction in being a part of his journey to help get him where he is today.”
Stephanie Unger from Kaneland Blackberry Creek – Nominated for Student Support Personnel of the Year
Stephanie Unger is not only the math coach for Kaneland Blackberry Creek, but she is also one of the building mentors. Unger is always making sure new teachers are well informed about the ins and outs of the building and the district.
Unger’s enthusiastic, cheerful, fun-loving and humorous personality toward her teaching is evident on a daily basis.
“I have a post on my door that jokes, ‘Everyone is a math person,’ ” she said. “One, do math, and two, be a person. It sounds corny, but we have math arguments and joke around, and these will help the students in the future being able to handle an argument or disagreement within the classroom.”
Sandra Faletto from Kaneland High School – Nominated for High School Teacher of the Year
In so many of her actions, Sandra Faletto looks for the good in others and shares her findings with enthusiasm. Her contributions to the students and Kaneland community are many.
Faletto is an integral part of the school and its continued growth as a place of kindness and integrity. She’s always on a mission to make someone feel special.
“School is evolving. It’s not just us sitting in a classroom surrounded by four walls,” she said. “There are so many different opportunities at the high school level that we give to the students to be more collaborative and work outside of the traditional school enviroment.”
Cynthia Campisi from Harter Middle School – Nominated for Early Career Educator of the Year
Cynthia Campisi is always helpful with her students, colleagues, and families. She is constantly finding ways to support her students and finding ways to help them socially.
Campisi’s ability to communicate with students, parents and administrators will lead to bigger and better things for her students, Harter Middle School, and the community as a whole.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else than working in the classroom,” she said. “I enjoy the staff I work with. We text each other at night with ideas and bounce them off one another to make our jobs more beneficial for the students. That is why we all do this!”
Thomas Huels from Harter Middle School – Nominated for Middle School Teacher of the Year
Thomas Huels is a great support of the staff, but he is really here for the kids. Students adore his teaching style and his humor. Thomas has taught science, math, physical education, health, industrial arts, and he is the athletic director.
Huels somehow is able to hold an upbeat attitude and keep high energy all of time while driving a bus, being the athletic director and teaching his classes. Huels has a great rapport with the students and staff he works with.
“High school is all about trying different things. Not everyone is 100 percent about what they’re going to do once they graduate,” he said. “That’s what makes high school so great — you can try a bunch of different things and fail, but you never know until you get up and try.”
Derek Sutor from Geneva High School – Nominated for High School Teacher of the Year
Derek Sutor has worked extremely hard throughout his life to understand his speech impediment and learned strategies to be successful despite this challenge.
Sutor uses a variety of strategies to meet the needs of his learners and will continue to explore options until the students understand the concept. He always puts the students first — one of his greatest strengths.
“I got help through elementary school, middle school, high school, and college,” Sutor said. “I’ve always had help through my struggles, and I thought: What better of a way to give back than to help students who also need it? If I can give someone hope, then this is worth it.”
Meet 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.