Stevenson High School government teacher Andrew Conneen was named one of nine finalists Monday for the Illinois State Board of Education's 2012-13 Illinois Teacher of the Year award.
The finalists represent schools across the state and are selected from nominees through ISBE’s Those Who Excel educator recognition program.
“These nine teachers are vibrant leaders who reflect Illinois’ commitment to ensuring students learn and succeed,” said Illinois State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico in a statement. “Education in Illinois is constantly evolving, and these teachers keep abreast of recent reforms and are always working hard to improve their classroom practices. They represent the best of the best across the state, and this program gives us the opportunity to publicly recognize their efforts.”
More than 200 nominations were reviewed this year by a selection committee comprised of administrators, teachers and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Illinois Teacher of the Year winners.
Each nomination is individually reviewed and scored three times. Nominations are scored based on personal background information, the nominating recommendation and letters of support from colleagues, parents and students. In addition, nominees must respond to questions focusing on student success, collaboration, continuous learning and leadership. Scores are compiled and averaged to determine one of three levels of recognition: Excellence, Merit or Recognition.
Superintendent Eric Twadell was among a group of past and present Stevenson parents and officials who wrote letters of recommendation for Conneen.
"While Andy is obviously concerned with the students in his own classes, he understands that it is our collective commitment to educating all kids that will have the most important and profound impact on our students’ lives. As such, Andy is frequently called upon to mentor new teachers, lead curriculum teams, and is a wonderful role model for those of us who aspire to serve as ‘learning leaders,’" Twadell wrote.
Teachers earning an Award of Excellence are finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year. Illinois has named a state Teacher of the Year since the mid-1950s. In 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education became involved in the Teacher of the Year selection, and the first banquet was held in 1974. During the 1980’s, ISBE began adding other categories so that educators in a variety of positions could be publicly acknowledged for their efforts. The Early Career Educator became the most recent addition in 2006.
Conneen is the third Stevenson educator in the last seven years to be named a Teacher of the Year finalist, according to the high school. Previous finalists were Laura Brandt Stoppek (2007) and Christina Kelly (2005). Conneen, who was hired by Stevenson in 1998, has taught primarily AP Government and AP Comparative Government. He has also served as a team leader on the Government curriculum team.
The 2012-13 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced during the Those Who Excel banquet Oct. 20 at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Normal. 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.