Effingham Instructor of Technology honored as 2006-07
Illinois Teacher of the Year
DECATUR -- Joe Fatheree began his teaching profession
in 1990 as an English teacher at Effingham High School.
In 1994 he became a history teacher and then in 2000 Joe
accepted the position of technology instructor. On Saturday
night, Joe became the 2006-2007 Illinois Teacher of the
Year during the 32nd annual Those Who Excel banquet.
Growing-up in an impoverished community in Southern Illinois,
Joe Fatheree didnt share the majority belief that
education was a hindrance to earning a living. Joe said
that a teacher helped him understand that education was
a source of self-improvement. Because of this teacher,
Joe said he was inspired to believe in people and to help
other people achieve a sense of self worth. This belief
has become Joe Fatherees personal mantra and one
that he instills in his students.
Principal Mike McCollum says that Joe has a unique ability
to teach any and all levels of students: he goes
out of his way to recruit students of varied learning
abilities for his program. He has a way of bringing out
the best qualities in all his students and helps them
do the same for other students.
Joes passion and commitment shine through
in his teaching and the way he lives his life outside
of the classroom, said State Superintendent of Education
Randy Dunn. You cant help but be impressed,
and inspired, by all that he has accomplished both in
the classroom and within the community at large.
Three years ago Joe started a program that exemplifies
his passion for helping students become successful learners
and citizens. The No Barriers Project-creating opportunity
through education was designed to help students
understand how extreme poverty impacts student success.
His first effort was recruiting a group of students to
pilot a poverty literacy program. During the programs
first year, students collected over 2500 coats for homeless
children living in the St. Louis Area. In the second year,
the students collected over 4000 books and partnered with
KCET, a PBS station in St. Louis, to find a literacy expert
to take the books into homes of disenfranchised children
to help them improve their reading skills. He also formed
a partnership with a school in East St. Louis. His students
are strengthening their skills by teaching visual story
telling skills to the students from East St. Louis.
Now in its third year, students from both schools are
working cooperatively to develop media projects. Students
participating in this program are learning much both academically
and socially by gaining insight into other cultures and
breaking down the barriers of miscommunication and misunderstanding.
He is equally as impassioned in the classroom as he guides
his students on the journey of learning. Joe talks about
when he began teaching he used the lecture style but it
didnt take him long to realize that he wasnt
reaching his students so he talked to them. He was surprised
by their level of frustration and vowed then and there
to change things, and change he did. His students starting
reading plays, writing rap music and playing it on guitars,
as well as breaking down grammatical sentence structures,
his students were learning, attendance increased, grades
soared, and discipline problems diminished.
Joe realized he was onto something very good.
He has carried these experiences, and many, many more,
with him as his teaching career has evolved. Today his
accomplishments are numerous and many of his students
have succeeded far beyond their own beliefs. Fatheree
truly leads by example and his students are eager to follow.
Joe holds a history degree from Eastern Illinois University
and a masters degree in Educational Administration.
As Illinois Teacher of the Year, Joe will have the opportunity
to take some time off from teaching. He will spend the
2007 spring semester speaking at teacher workshops, educational
conferences, and civic and community meetings. Joe will
receive a lifetime tuition waiver to state universities
and a one-semester paid leave to pursue coursework or
develop an educational project that will benefit students
statewide. In addition, Fatheree will represent Illinois
at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama and in the
National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the
Council of Chief State School Officers, Scholastic, Inc.,
and ING. In addition, Joe will receive products and services
from Motorola and SMART, Technologies.