For Immediate Release
Monday, August 21, 2017

Illinois Teacher of the Year finalists selected

2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year to be named Oct. 28

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced the 10 finalists for the 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year. ISBE will name one individual from the 10 finalists as the 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year during the "Those Who Excel" banquet in October. The state’s annual educator recognition banquet and program will acknowledge the contributions and accomplishments of more than 230 educators and school personnel from throughout the state.

"The Those Who Excel program honors and celebrates some of Illinois’ most exemplary teachers at every level," said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. "Every student deserves to feel like they belong. Our 10 Teacher of the Year finalists are outstanding representatives of educators who continuously go above and beyond to make students feel well known and well cared for. Their level of commitment, their passion, and their dedication is evident in their strong relationships with students, colleagues, and families within their communities."

A selection committee composed of administrators, teachers, educational service personnel, student support personnel, and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners reviewed 234 Teacher of the Year nominations this year.

Ricardo "Ricky" Castro is the 2017 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Ricky teaches English as a second language, language arts, and Spanish at Elk Grove High School in Township High School District 214.

"Through my experiences as the Illinois Teacher of the Year, it has become more evident to me that teachers today are daily leaders that foster the social development, self-actualization, and academic growth needed to thrive in our diverse and democratic society," Castro said. "It has been such a great opportunity to honor and recognize teachers as they provide a daily example of what it means to serve others in one of the most life-changing professions any individual could ever join."

ISBE will announce the 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year during the Those Who Excel banquet on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. The Teacher of the Year will represent Illinois at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the Council of Chief State School Officers’ National Teacher of the Year Program.

Here are this year’s finalists:

  • Valarie Berger teaches family and consumer sciences at West Leyden High School, located in Franklin Park, in Leyden High School District 212.
  • James Connelly is an industrial technology teacher at Morton West High School, located in Berwyn, in J. Sterling Morton High School District 201.
  • Teresa Eden is a Title 1 reading teacher at Monroe Center Grade School, located in Monroe Center, in Meridian Community Unit School District 223.
  • William Farmer teaches biology and chemistry at Evanston Township High School, located in Evanston, in District 202.
  • Lindsey Jensen teaches English at Dwight Township High School, located in Dwight, in Dwight Public Schools District 230.
  • Erin Miller is a fourth-grade teacher in a self-contained classroom at Brimfield Grade School, located in Brimfield, in Brimfield Unit District 309.
  • Jamie Nash-Mayberry teaches social studies at Shawnee High School, located in Wolf Lake, in Shawnee Community Unit School District 84.
  • Angie Noble is a third-grade teacher at Jerseyville East Elementary School, located in Jerseyville, in Jersey Community Unit School District 100.
  • Faith Skinner teaches math in sixth grade at Emily G. Johns School, located in Plano, in Plano Community Unit School District 88.
  • Morgan Teske is a special education teacher in grades 9-12 at East High School, located in Rockford, in Rockford Public School District 205.

For photos of the finalists, please contact Ann Muraro-Lacopo at the ISBE Office of Communications at (217) 782-4648.