Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In
Betsy Alderman - 2017 Outstanding Early Career Educator

Betsy Alderman is now in her fifth year of teaching math at Centennial High School in Champaign Unit 4 School District. Betsy credits her second-grade teacher, Ms. Morgan, with inspiring her to want to become a teacher. “She made learning feel magical for all and treated new topics like special events we were invited to attend. I knew that I wanted to be just like her one day.”

Betsy’s experiences as a Golden Apple Scholar during college revealed a whole new side of teaching for her—teaching in an urban setting as opposed to a more rural setting. Her dreams of teaching in her hometown quickly faded as she embraced teaching in Chicago public schools. “I found that while teaching in a small town would be absolutely lovely, I belonged in a more urban environment where I could continue to learn about the world, myself, and how my students can truly mold me into being a better teacher and advocate for justice,” she said.

From the day she started teaching at Centennial, Betsy has been an advocate for the ever-growing population of English language learners. She has worked closely with the school’s ESL teachers in developing successful strategies to help students succeed in Algebra 2. Betsy is considered a leader by her colleagues and administrators. Jay Hooper, who is chair of the math department, shared this with us: “Her work as a member of a professional learning community benefits a wide range of students. Betsy’s commitment to teaching goes beyond just the walls of her classroom and school.” Last summer Betsy and a colleague were asked to present at a national conference in California for College Preparatory Mathematics.

Betsy shares her collaboration skills with her students, encouraging them to work together and learn from each other. Her teaching focuses on knowing and understanding her students and how they each best learn. Betsy keeps copious notes on each day’s activities and refers to them when helping students who are struggling. She offers ways to find additional support, works on key points to remember, and designs mini-lessons that help students find success. One of her students sums up Betsy’s numerous strengths this way: “With her determination for greater learning and teaching, I’d be lucky to have another teacher like Ms. Alderman.”


Joe Fatheree and Pam Reilly 

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently selected six teachers to attend the 2015 International Summit on the Teaching Profession. Two of the six teachers are from Illinois: Joe Fatheree of Effingham District 40 and Pam Reilly of Sandwich School District 430.

The summit will be held in Alberta, Canada, this year and will include education leaders from around the world who will gather to share best practices and policies in education. Pam is the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year and Joe is the 2007 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Congratulations to both of them!

Josh Stumpenhorst

Josh Stumpenhorst, the 2012 Illinois Teacher of the Year, recently wrote a book titled “The New Teacher Revolution: Changing Education for a New Generation of Leaners.”

The book is available on Amazon.

Josh teaches sixth grade language arts and social science at Lincoln Junior High School in Naperville Community School District 203.

Congratulations, Josh!

Steven Elza watches over his students as they dismantle a car engine.

On March 17, 2015, the Illinois Association for Career and Technical Education (IACTE) held a Career Technical Education (CTE) Rally Day at the State Capitol. Illinois Teacher of the Year Steven Elza, an applied technology teacher at William Fremd High School in Township High School District 211, and five of his students set up a display and demonstrated their knowledge and skills in the rotunda of the State Capitol. The students also gave a brief speech telling the audience how important vocational classes and training are to them.

After the rally day concluded, Steve and his students were introduced by state Sen. Dan Kotowski on the Senate floor. They also spent time talking with state representatives and other senators.

Steve is available for speaking engagements and presentations. Because he didn’t follow the conventional path to becoming a teacher,  his experiences of being mentored, and being a mentor, are valuable stories for teachers and students considering teaching as a profession. He can provide excellent insight into preparing students for rewarding careers.

To request Steve for your next event, please visit and complete the speaker request form.