October 2020 – Each year since 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education has sponsored Those Who Excel “to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to our state’s public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools.”
School districts throughout the state nominate individuals in five categories: school administrator, student support personnel, educational service personnel, community volunteer and teams. Nomination materials are evaluated by a selection committee comprised of individuals who represent a variety of educational organizations. Nominations are scored by a panel of judges and awarded on three levels: Award of Excellence, Award of Meritorious Service, Award of Recognition.
CUSD 10 teachers honored with 2020-21 ISBE recognition:
Elementary music teacher Jennifer Bhooshan was named Illinois Teacher of the Year for the Southwest Region. Read more: Teacher Jennifer Bhooshan Named a 2021 Illinois Teacher of the Year.
Caseyville Elementary third grade teacher Hannah Hergenrother was recognized with Award of Excellence Early Career Educator. She was nominated by Caseyville Principal Chelsea Clark.
Excerpt from Hergenrother’s nomination:
In the classroom, Miss Hergenrother has a wonderful rapport with children. Hannah’s rapport is established by understanding it is not about having the right set of rules, but rather the right set of relationships with her students. This rapport allows for her classroom management to be one of the best I have ever seen that maximizes instructional time with efficient routines and procedures that have been explicitly taught. Additionally, her rapport with students carries over to her instruction and ability to engage her students. When behavior concerns arise, she is proactive in working with the students through various behavior plans, motivators and check in/check out systems. She is communicative with parents, administration and other staff members (if necessary) to help implement these plans for students to feel success.
When remote learning came about this year, these relationships helped Hannah and her students to transition seamlessly to a less than ideal learning environment. Without hesitating, Miss Hergenrother went beyond her comfort zone and began teaching her students via a YouTube Channel. She hung inspirational posters from her classroom around her house for her students to see while teaching. Hannah has held Zoom lunches and homework help sessions with students that needed academic support. She insists on her colleagues setting aside time each week when meeting to do Mental Health Check Ins with one another. Whether in the classroom or remotely, Hannah is quick to respond and lift up her colleagues much like she does with her students when needed. Sometimes it is a simple note or surprising a teacher with her favorite Starbucks, but nonetheless, Hannah´s selfless acts of kindness do not go unnoticed.
Much like those relationships with her students and colleagues, Miss Hergenrother makes it a priority prior to the school year ever starting to contact families and start building connections to make her classroom a community of learners. Many of Hannah´s families speak Spanish, but instead of seeing this as a barrier, she sees it as an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to help translate letters and help her make phone calls. These early interactions have allowed her to have the confidence to have some difficult conversations with parents regarding academic and/or behavior concerns. Additionally, it has allowed for her families to be more willing to build a partnership to set their child up for success.
Collinsville High School teacher Heather Johnson was recognized for Meritorious Service Classroom Teacher. She was nominated by CHS Principal David Snider.
Excerpt from Johnson’s nomination:
Mrs. Johnson has excelled in a variety of meaningful ways. For example, she actively leads our Rtl/MTSS Program. Heather initiated our Summer Jump Start Program for at-risk freshmen students entering CHS. Students were provided math and English foundational skills, study skills, and social activities over the course of 2 weeks. The program was a resounding success as evidenced by the fact all of the students earned credit for their classes this school year! Heather uses data along with compassion to lead our Rtl team meetings.
She is a “leader by example” who routinely checks in with designated students. Mrs. Johnson also initiated Youth and Government activities at CHS for the first time with financial assistance from our local YMCA. We had students propose bills pertaining to vaping, curtailing the decreasing population in Illinois, and state funding for school supplies. One of our students earned 3rd Place for his efforts at the 71st General Assembly, Illinois Youth and Government. Heather is also an excellent social studies teacher based on my professional observations in the classroom. It should also be noted that she chaperones and assists with a variety of extracurricular events (i.e. dances). Heather will lead our Scholar Bowl Team next school year.
Perhaps the largest contribution Mrs. Johnson has made at CHS is her educational leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic. Heather was the key teacher leader on our E-Learning Committee. She coordinated and assisted with a multitude of teacher training sessions and meetings which ensured our delivery of educational services to CHS students. Heather’s technology skills, professionalism, and interpersonal skills were instrumental in our success. Once again, she was the driving force in implementing a sound plan for students and staff. Heather has quickly become an educational leader at CHS as a result of her actions. Mrs. Johnson will be an integral leader in our Return to Learning planning and preparation efforts.