PAM Steele, a fifth grade science teacher at Oregon Elementary, has been named a finalist for the 2012-2013 Illinois Teacher of the Year.
A total of nine finalists were named by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) out of 200 nominations. The finalists represent schools across the state and are selected from nominees through ISBE’s Those Who Excel educator recognition program.
“These nine teachers are vibrant leaders who reflect Illinois’ commitment to ensuring students learn and succeed,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “Education in Illinois is constantly evolving, and these teachers keep abreast of recent reforms and are always working hard to improve their classroom practices. They represent the best of the best across the state, and this program gives us the opportunity to publicly recognize their efforts.”
More than 200 nominations were reviewed this year by a selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners.
Ann Tilton, Oregon Elementary Principal fully agrees with the ISBE's decision to nominate Steele. "Ms. Steele is truly deserving of this honor. She brings an enthusiasm to the classroom that motivates her students to have a real interest in what they are learning. It is obvious as one passes by her room, seeing her and the students working, that she also connects with the students on a personal level. That is the vital part of being excellent teacher and the heart of who Ms. Steele is - she loves what she does for the students."
Each nomination is individually reviewed and scored three times. Nominations are scored based on personal background information, the nominating recommendation and letters of support from colleagues, parents and students. In addition, nominees must respond to questions focusing on student success, collaboration, continuous learning and leadership. Scores are compiled and averaged to determine one of three levels of recognition: Excellence, Merit or Recognition.
Teachers earning an Award of Excellence are finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year. Illinois has named a state Teacher of the Year since the mid 1950’s. In 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education became involved in the Teacher of the Year selection, and the first banquet was held in 1974. During the 1980’s, ISBE began adding other categories so that educators in a variety of positions could be publicly acknowledged for their efforts. The Early Career Educator became the most recent addition in 2006.
The 2012-13 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced during the Those Who Excel banquet Oct. 20 at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. The Teacher of the Year will represent Illinois at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year Program.