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Teacher of the Year takes the stage with students at the state fair


IFT Local 1211 member and 2015 Teacher of the Year Steve Elza and his students will be in the spotlight this weekend as they demonstrate their expertise in automotive technology by participating in an engine teardown challenge at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield.
“We’re really excited. This is a great extension of what they do in class or work every day, and such a great opportunity for them to showoff what they know,” Elza said. “Career and Technical Education (CTE) is in the national spotlight right now, so it's great that the public and elected officials will have the chance to see not only what these kids can do, but why they do it. This is all about these kids.”
Although the engine teardown challenge is a race against time, the more important aspect is the quality of what the students have learned through coursework and the hands-on experience they have gained through Elza’s teaching at William Fremd High School in Palatine. During the challenge, some of his current and former students will disassemble a small block Chevy engine, then reassemble it following industry standard procedures and torque specifications, typically within the current state and national competition criteria of 20 minutes.
“Steve’s students are demonstrating technical skills and lifelong skills of problem solving that will serve them well in any career they pursue,” said Tony Smith, State Superintendent of Education. “Team building, concise communication, attention to detail, the ability to perform well under pressure, are all valuable tools for their futures. Combined with their core subjects of math, science and English, these students will graduate well equipped to continue their education and enter the workforce.”
Students in Elza’s classes share a passion for engines and how they work, and he is committed to providing them the inspiration and knowledge they need to pursue further career and technical education after high school. Participation in experiences like this challenge also help ignite students’ competitive edge and drive them to work as an effective team, which enhances their future success.
“After high school, life takes all of us in different directions, but we will always share automotive technology as our passion,” said Dion Analitis, team member and former student. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to showcase something that has had such a positive impact on our lives.”
Watch Elza and his student team showcase their talents in the Governor’s Tent at the fair from Friday, Aug. 14 – Sunday, Aug. 16 at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. each day.




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