SPRINGFIELD – The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has named 2022 Illinois Teacher of the Year and Oregon High School Spanish teacher Kim Radostits (“RAD-oh-stits") one of five finalists for 2023 National Teacher of the Year – the most prestigious teacher award in the country. CCSSO administers the National Teacher of the Year program annually and selects the best of the best as finalists out of the 56 State Teachers of the Year from all U.S. states and territories.
“I'm incredibly proud to have Illinois represented in this finalist list, and I'm grateful to teachers like Kim Radostits who demonstrate the very best of what an educator can be every day,"
said Governor JB Pritzker. “Students who stay engaged in school stay engaged in their communities and in their futures, creating a ripple effect of stronger outcomes for everyone they interact with. We will all see an even brighter Illinois in coming years because of the work of teachers like Ms. Radostits."
“I am so proud of Ms. Radostits and honored that she has the opportunity to represent Illinois on the national stage as a finalist for 2023 National Teacher of the Year,"
said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “She has a profoundly powerful message for schools across the country about the importance of showing our students that we care – not just telling them but making a connection and forming relationships as the basis for how we teach."
Dr. Ayala selected Radostits as Illinois Teacher of the Year in March 2022. The passionate educator has spent the 2022-23 school year on a paid sabbatical sponsored by the state. Radostits has utilized her term to advocate for students who are disengaged from school. She says that for disengaged students to care about learning the content, they must first feel cared about as humans. Radostits developed a program at Oregon High School called Hawks Take Flight, which uses evidence-based metrics to identify eighth and ninth grade students most at risk of not graduating on time. The program pairs these students with a mentor and provides personalized, data-informed, relationship-based supports through weekly check-ins, goal setting, and feedback. The Hawks Take Flight program drastically decreased the number of Fs earned by Oregon High School ninth graders and increased graduation rates.
“Education is the foundation of our society and the teaching profession is at the forefront in making sure our future is bright,"
said Radostits. “If there is one thing I have learned since being part of the teaching force, it is that every teacher has unique skills and knowledge that, when put together, make us strong, resilient, innovative, and exactly what our students need. It's important that we continue to teach with the belief that all students can excel regardless of their backgrounds. We need to ensure that children see that they are valued as individuals and that we believe in them, so that they build the confidence they need to not only meet learning targets but develop into the productive, responsible, community members we need to lead us into a promising future."
Radostits has spoken at conferences and visited schools across the state to share information about the Hawks Take Flight program and has begun chronicling her work through a blog,
Fresh Takes on Freshmen on Track.
In the classroom, Radostits takes her relationship-based approach to teaching Spanish. She crafts lessons and out-of-school activities that make the content relevant to her students, create opportunities for connection between herself and her students and between her students and the Spanish-speaking world, and build students' confidence in themselves and their abilities.
Radostits also started a New Teacher Academy at Oregon High School to support new hires and promote teacher retention. She earned her bachelor's degree in Spanish Language and Literature from Northern Illinois University, her master's in Educational Leadership from Aurora University, and her National Board Certification.
The last finalist to hail from Illinois was 2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year Annice Brave, who was an English and journalism teacher at Alton High School. The last National Teacher of the Year from Illinois was 1968 Illinois Teacher of the Year David E. Graf, who was a career and technical education teacher at Sandwich Community High School.
Radostits will fly to Washington, D.C., in late February to interview with the National Teacher of the Year selection committee, which is composed of members of national education organizations that represent parents, principals, administrators, teachers, and civic leaders. If selected as the 2023 National Teacher of the Year, Radostits will embark upon a year of honor and service, representing Illinois as she crosses the country to speak at hundreds of events, advocate for students, elevate the contemporary issues teachers face, and inspire future teachers to join the profession.
CCSSO will announce the 2023 National Teacher of the Year in March.