Monday, November 13, 2017

ISBE honors board members
with ‘Those Who Excel’ awards

State education officials recently honored seven Illinois school board members at the 43rd annual Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year banquet in Bloomington. One board member captured the award of excellence, the highest level. Winning board members, and their school district, follow:

John Puzauskas
McLean County Unit District 5, Normal

Chris Kloeppel
Champaign Unit 4 Community Unit School District

Donna Cain
DuPage High School District 88, Addison

Kim Skaja
Huntley Community School District 158

Margaret (Peggy) Babcock
Palatine CCSD 15

Ralph Edward Test
Jersey CUSD 100, Jerseyville

Jim Ward
Plano Community Unit School District 88

Lindsey Jensen
Among 228 other educators honored at the banquet was the 2018 Teacher of the Year, Lindsey Jensen, an English and literature teacher from Dwight Township High School District 230.

Jensen says she believes “teaching requires becoming part of students’ lives and making connections that no other professional experiences.” She teaches advanced placement English, drama, Shakespeare, literature, and composition to juniors and seniors in high school. State education officials said Jensen’s peers recommended her because of her infectious positivity, as well as the high standards she sets for students.

Jensen began her career in education as a teacher’s aide in 2005; she is now in her ninth year as a high school English instructor.

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said Jensen “exemplifies teacher leadership.” Smith added: “It’s a great time to be an educator in Illinois. The Those Who Excel award recipients show us how educators can unite communities and change students’ lives. These educators showcase the dynamic work happening in schools across Illinois –from the high school principal helping students run their own technology business to the middle school teacher harnessing her own story of fortitude to inspire leadership in her students.”

Local school district leaders and members of school communities nominate candidates for this recognition. A committee of peers, organized through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), chose the award winners who were honored this year. The committee represents statewide education organizations and includes former award winners.

The 235 recipients received recognition on three levels and across multiple categories, including classroom teacher, teams, early career educator, school administrator, school board member, community volunteer, education service personnel, and student support personnel.

A complete list of local recipients by county can be accessed on ISBE’s Those Who Excel winners' list.