- 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 the final week of #EOTY44, right before the big night! Did everyone get a chance to get out this past weekend and see Endgame? If not, don’t work, we won’t #SpoilTheEndgame for anyone. Below, you will find 12 more brilliant educators from Kane County.
This week’s nominees are from Batavia 301, West Aurora 129 and East Aurora 131 — teachers, administrators and support staff who have been nominated and recognized as leaders in their education-related fields by their students, colleagues and supervisors.
Joseph Franz from Batavia High School – Nominated for High School Teacher of the Year
Joseph Franz has had a profound impact on Batavia High School and its incredible students for the past 29 years. What makes Franz stand out is his dedication to promoting informed citizenship in his students and the endless support and encouragement he provides to his colleagues.
He is not only a great teacher of content, but also demonstrates how students can be civically active.
“When the kids are watching and they get that ‘aha’ moment, when they’re nodding their heads and they’re listening, they ask a lot of questions,” he said. “Those are good days and I hope I gave them a good experience.”
Mary Youngmark from West Aurora High School – Nominated for Student Support Personnel of the Year
Mary Jo Youngmark embodies the term “Nurse.” Be it health care support or emotional support, Youngmark deftly finds a way to provide just what is needed to get a student through a tough day.
One way Youngmark has positively impacted students is by ensuring that they are eligible to attend schools. She has worked tirelessly to track down and communicate students who need to have their health records updated.
“I love my job, I love the people I work with and I can’t imagine my life without it,” Youngmark said. “It gets me up and keeps me going, and that is why I am still doing this after all this time.”
Julie Swartzloff from West Aurora High School – Nominated for School Administrator of the Year
Julie Swartzloff has coordinated new curriculum in all levels of the World Language Department – an unbelievable task! She always has the right answer and such a positive outlook for every situation a student might encounter.
Swartzloff will make time when she doesn’t have it to meet or come to a teacher’s classroom to give advice on lessons or classroom management.
“Kids can sniff out someone who is not authentic immediately,” she said. “You can’t really change who you are, but if you truly, genuinely care about kids, they pick up on that, too. If I really show I care for them, then that is where that successful relationship begins.”
Kevin Ongtengco from West Aurora High School – Nominated for Early Career Educator of the Year
Kevin Ongtengco is able to listen and work with his colleagues in a supportive environment by listening to everyone’s ideas and collaborating as all good educational professional should.
No matter what the task, Ongtengco gives his best efforts in all facets of the school community. He is reflective on his practice and always looking to seek out professional development to perfect his craft of teaching.
“I love health based on physical health, exercise, nutrition,” he said. “But I think the most important aspect of health is mental health. I think in our society today, teens need so much more help in this department to deal with the stressors.”
Denise Halleran from O’Donnell Elementary – Nominated for Preschool Teacher of the Year
Denise Halleran has a big heart for the Tiny Tomcats. She does a great job ensuring her classroom is a print-rich environment and is intentional about developing a strong home-school connection with parents.
Every year she expresses that she has “the best group ever” regardless of any challenged presented by students year after year. Halleran has dedicated towards to the program and loves what she does.
“I think, as a teacher, our ultimate goal is to help the students become completely self actualized,” she said. “You want them to love school. When they’re confident and they love school — that is what we want as educators.”
Jesenia Blank from Hermes Elementary – Nominated for Elementary Teacher of the Year
Jesina Blank differentiates lessons for the general education students as well as the needs of special education students. Perhaps Blank’s strongest quality is her ability to make positive, lasting relationships with all those who come in contact with her.
Blank is always one of the first educators in the room to offer to mentor a challenging student.
“I love working here at Hermes and the people I work with,” she said. “They are actually making Physical Education a three-times-a-week class instead of two-times-a-week, which is a huge compliment to me and my field of education.”
Belma Perez from O’Donnell Elementary – Nominated for Educational Service Personnel of the Year
Belma Perez has been an exemplary assistant to get teachers and always good with the students. Perez is joyful, devoted and will try anything to engage students in their learning!
She has been a teacher assistant for more than 10 years and is a gem of a person who always comes to work with a smile on her face and ready to start her day. Perez is a warm and loving person, spreading the same warmth to her students.
“In the beginning of the year, I am very excited to work with all of my new students,” she said. “I feel like they are a part of me and I need to protect them as if they were one of my own.”
Dr. Glenda Rosado from Rollins Elementary – Nominated for School Administrator of the Year
Dr. Glenda Rosado’s leadership style of service has had a positive effect on the school climate and culture. When she sees a need, when the status quo has not best served children, her drive for improvement has encouraged the staff to think anew and reinvent.
Rosado has a passion for for mentoring not only students, but also educators. Her encouragement to be the best and do your best is never ending.
“My goal is for the students to leave the school year with more academic gains than when they entered the year with,” Rosado said. “I always have a growth mindset of, “I am going to make a difference in someone’s day today.””
Geoffrey Adler from Beaupre Elementary – Nominated for Elementary Teacher of the Year
Geoffrey Adler has a plethora of strengths within his field. He has proven to be a dynamic and dedicated educator who will uphold this honor through excellence in teaching and with a high degree of humility and service.
Teaching leaders have to be open to change and new ideas from others, and Adler has proven that he can interact with diverse personalities in leading reform.
“Most educators want to keep the tools they have learned to themselves, and I always wonder why,” he said. “This is how we learn. We’re all in the same business for the same reason: the kids. I live on that philosophy and how we can better the students.”
Tiffany Mullin from East Aurora High School – Nominated for Student Support Personnel of the Year
Tiffany Mullin has been a teacher’s assistant, a one-on-one assistant, a substitute teacher, a cross-categorical special education teacher for all disabilities, a DREAMMS teacher, and a special education coordinator.
Teaching has always been a passion for Mullin. She has shown a wealth of knowledge as it relates to the IEP process and legal mandates placed upon districts to meet student’s needs.
“I love that I work with everybody from the parents, to the teachers, to the students,” she said. “I get to help the teachers become better at what they do; I get to make parents more educated, and then the students get to become better advocates.”
Jose Cardenas from East Aurora High School – Nominated for High School Teacher of the Year
Jose Cardenas is a dedicated teacher who uses his East Aurora background to connect to students, believing that all students can succeed and reach higher levels of education.
He takes the time to get to know his students, hone his lessons to meet their individual learning needs, and provide his colleagues with support. Cardenas is organized and detailed in all aspects of his professional life.
“A good day for me would be kids walking out of my class feeling accomplished, whether that’s academically, personally or mentally,” he said. “I graduated from this community, and I try to connect to the students using this to show them where they could end up one day if they pay attention and work hard.”
Rosario Arana from Waldo Middle School – Nominated for Middle School Teach of the Year
Rosario Arana has a passion for education and a non-stop devotion to her students. Her approach and demeanor as well as her personal interactive skills have always been outstanding.
Arana ensures she creates a safe, supportive and welcoming learning environment for all of her students. She is continuously pushing her students with questions and prompts that require them to dig deeper into their knowledge.
“This is what I did, and you can do it, too!,” Briones said. “Anyone can do it regardless of the challenges in your way as long as you work hard at it and put your mind to it.”
Meet The Other Nominees
- Week 1: #EOTY44 Week 1: Meet 12 Inspiring Educators from D-303 and District U-46
- Week 2: #EOTY44 Week 2: Meet 12 Amazing Educators from D-303, Central 301 and Kaneland!
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.