A Wood River-Hartford School District teacher is among the 10 finalists for 2017 Illinois Teacher of the Year.
Matthew Herndon, a physical education teacher at Lewis and Clark Junior High School in Wood River, is among the finalists for the award, which will be announced during the Illinois State Board of Education’s “Those Who Excel” banquet in October. The state’s annual educator recognition program will acknowledge the contributions and accomplishments of more than 250 educators and school personnel from throughout the state.
“This program gives us the opportunity to meet outstanding teachers at every level and recognize leadership and achievements in classrooms throughout Illinois,” State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said. “These dedicated educators inspire me every day and I am impressed by the relationships they create with students, colleagues, parents and the community in order to give students the best learning opportunities available.”
A selection committee composed of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners reviewed 253 nominations this year.
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.
Other finalists are:
- Ricardo Castro is an ESL, language arts and Spanish teacher for grades 9-12 at Elk Grove High School in Township High School District 214.
- Jeremy Clarke teaches third grade at Dr. Nick Osborne Primary Center in Mount Vernon City Schools District 80.
- John Colucci is a language arts teacher for students in seventh grade at Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park Elementary School District 97.
- Nichole Folkman teaches journalism, English, speech and literature to students in grades 9-12 at Hartsburg-Emden CUSD 21.
- Candace Hamilton is a physical science teacher for eighth-grade students at Whiteside Middle School in Whiteside School District 115.
- Edward “Ted” Houpt is a social studies teacher at Danville High School in Danville Consolidated School District 118.
- Patti Ludwig teaches fourth-grade students at Mary Morgan Elementary School in Byron CUSD 226.
- Elizabeth Mendoza is a Spanish teacher for students in grades 10-12 at J.S. Morton East High School in J.S. Morton High School District 201.
- Anthony Zarate teaches English language arts to seventh- and eighth-grade students at UCSN Brighton Park Elementary.
Kim Thomas is the 2016 Illinois Teacher of the Year. She teaches math to eighth-graders at Woodruff Career and Technical Center in Peoria Public Schools District 150.