February 10, 2023 – Collinsville Community Unit School District #10 is proud to announce three members of the Kahok Family are being recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education 2023 Those Who Excel program.
Collinsville High School assistant principal Charlotte Fisher, Collinsville Middle School library/media specialist Michael Hayman and Maryville Elementary special education teacher Jessica May are among 490 educators from across the state ISBE has chosen to honor for “…significant contributions to our state’s public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools.”
The annual ISBE Those Who Excel & Teacher of the Year Awards celebrate “incredible classroom teachers, administrators, teams, volunteers and school support personnel who have made lasting impacts on the students, families and fellow educators in their school communities.”
“Illinois educators get up every day and perform one of the most difficult jobs in our state—and these excellent teachers, volunteers and administrators honored by ISBE went above and beyond that already exceptional call to serve,” said Governor JB Pritzker, “I’m thrilled to recognize teachers alongside librarians, custodians, volunteers and other support personnel who all contribute to our students’ wellbeing. Just like Illinois as a whole, it takes many skills and roles to keep a school running and to build the next generation of outstanding Illinoisans. Congratulations to the honorees and on behalf of the State of Illinois, thank you for your service.”
Collinsville CUSD 10 Superintendent Dr. Mark B. Skertich said: “On behalf of our entire district we would like to congratulate Charlotte, Jessica and Michael on their recognition and thank them for their dedication to our students, district and communities. We are fortunate to have a great staff throughout our district and these three are shining examples.”
Charlotte Fisher, Assistant Principal, Collinsville High School
Meritorious Service, Administrator
Charlotte Fisher joined the Kahok Family in 2008. CHS Principal Daniel Toberman appreciates the many contributions she makes as an assistant principal by supporting both students and staff: “Charlotte is a mentor for all staff including first-year teachers and young administrators. She works closely with special education students to ensure equity, has led an anti-bullying initiative and leads school restorative practice efforts.”
“My life’s passion is teaching and learning; especially for students with disadvantages,” Fisher says, “I began my career as a special education teacher. As a special education teacher, each day presented a new challenge. Yet, I enjoyed learning, listening, and growing.”
Ms. Fisher values her transition from teacher to administrator. “Although I was not sold on leaving the classroom, I was prepared to lead. My leadership position allows me to support colleagues, teachers, students and families from a different platform. I am not one for the spotlight. My focus will always be on the work needed in our communities and schools for students,” she says.
She adds: “I am a leader who strives to provide structure, empathy, and support for all students. There is no substitute for good educational leaders. The most rewarding experience any educator can receive is witnessing the moment when a student truly gets it and begins to love learning or have hope for their future. Students respect educators who are consistent in their approach. My approach is to consistently put students in the best position to succeed.
“No matter the position, we are in the educational community together and each of us has the ability to make a difference. I am thankful for the recognition, but making a difference is my reward.”
Michael Hayman, Library/Media Specialist, Collinsville Middle School
Excellence, Student Support Personnel
Michael Hayman was a classroom teacher before joining Collinsville CUSD 10 in 2005 as a library/media specialist at Collinsville Middle School. He has made the Collinsville Middle School library/media center the hub of the school, a think-tank for creative students and a refuge for students looking for a place to fit-in.
Mr. Hayman’s library is not the quiet place people expect. He finds quirky ways to connect with middle schoolers; making TikTok videos for and with them; having musical instruments accessible in the library to encourage song writing and playing; and collaborating with a parent to host a foosball tournament. He looks for ways to buy used books and fun things to do in the library. He showcases photos and mementos from his own youth to show kids he was once like them.
“The vision and mission of my middle school library/media center is not a warehouse of artifacts, but a cognitive playground for the community we empower. It is an environment of opportunity for students, teachers, staff and parents to explore, discover, connect, experiment, research and create content. I have a front row seat to collaborate, observe and have fun making memories,” Hayman says.
“‘The less I talk, the more they learn’ is the phrase that describes me most as a teacher,” Hayman adds, “Students must put forth the majority of thought and effort, learn to learn for themselves, be self-sufficient, a self-starter and a problem solver. Everyone learns through creating, self reflection, and troubleshooting identifiable areas for improvement.”
“Mr. Hayman goes above and beyond to share his knowledge and creativity with the students, staff and our district public relations efforts,” CUSD 10 Superintendent Dr. Skertich said, “He created a website for our libraries that is used district-wide by students and their families. He supports his colleagues by researching and sharing online resources, digital books and databases. He takes the initiative to recognize areas of need and find new ways to encourage learning.”
Hayman noticed reading in the district had declined since the pandemic began in 2020. He worked with teachers, administrators and CMS’ speech language pathologist to develop the prototype for a reading incentive program that is currently being piloted at the middle school.
This year, he also partnered with the Collinsville Daily News to develop a published outlet for student writing, video and audio projects. The section titled “Perspectives” amplifies student voices and offers recognition for a multitude of student creative endeavors.
“No matter the background, no matter the ability, everyone is capable of creativity and effort, but opportunity and empowerment must be given for multiple pathways to success, social connections, exploration, emotional support and correction,” says Mr. Hayman.
Collinsville CUSD 10 Public Relations Liaison Kimberly Collins works with Hayman on videos and creative projects for the district. She said, “Mr. Hayman is a force in our district who puts students first, and focuses on both learning and social/emotional development. The key to his success is that the kids have so much fun, they don’t realize how they benefit in other important ways.”
Jessica May, Special Education Teacher, Maryville Elementary
Special Recognition, Teacher
Jessica May has been a special education teacher at Maryville Elementary School since 2005. During her tenure, she has worked successfully as both a resource teacher and co-teacher.
Maryville Principal Carmen Loemker said, “Through the years, Mrs. May has managed countless challenging students and parents. She has been able to assure parents that their child’s IEP is implemented with integrity and fidelity. Recently, one parent of a student that moved in from a private school stated that she has never had her child cared for the way Mrs. May cares for and manages her child.
“Mrs. May manages to provide a calm and peaceful learning environment even with challenging student behavior. She uses individual incentives, has students involved in tracking their own academic success, work completion, and positive choices. Students remain engaged and complete work for her that were unable to do so in other classes. The students and staff of Maryville Elementary are truly fortunate to work with Mrs. May.”
ISBE received a record number of nominations and applications for the 2023 Those Who Excel & Teacher of the Year Awards. A committee of administrators, teachers, educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teachers of the Year selected this year’s awardees. ISBE will celebrate the awardees at a banquet on April 29.