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IFT members named finalists for 2016 Teacher of the Year

Four IFT members were among just 10 teachers from across the state selected as finalists in the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual “Those Who Excel” educator recognition program. One winner will be named “2016 Teacher of the Year” at an awards banquet in October.


Rebecca Merrill is a member of the O'Fallon
Federation of Teachers, Local 3939.
She teaches
chemistry at O’Fallon Township High School in
O’Fallon Township High School District 203.


Paul Rausch
is a member of the
McHenry Federation of Teachers, Local 1642.
He teaches music/choir at Woodstock High School
in Woodstock Community Unit School District 200.


Kimberly Thomas
is a member of the
Peoria Federation of Teachers, Local 780.
She teaches 8th grade math at Woodruff Career
and Technical Center in Peoria Public School District 150.


Pamela Wandersen
is a member of
the Summit Hill Council of AFT Local 604.
She teaches 3rd grade at Indian Trail Elementary
School in Summit Hill School District 161.

“There may be no tougher - or more important - job than teaching, and those who truly excel at it deserve to be recognized and rewarded,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “The IFT is proud to represent outstanding educators like Rebecca, Paul, Kimberly, and Pamela, who demonstrate both professional excellence and a passion for helping kids learn and achieve.”

IFT members have a proud history of winning the top award. The 2015 winner was Steve Elza, an automotive technology teacher and member of the Northwest Suburban Teachers Union, Local 1211. Brian Curtin, also a member of Local 1211, was the winner in 2013. Other recent IFT winners include: Kevin Rutter, Local 1 (2009); Linda Smerge, Local 571 (2008); and Ruth Meissen, Local 540 (2007).
More than 250 nominations were reviewed this year by a selection committee of administrators, teachers, and representatives from educational service personnel, student support personnel, and past winners before the final 10 were selected.
The 2016 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced during the "Those Who Excel" banquet next month in Bloomington-Normal. The winner 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.

Congratulations and best of luck to our amazing IFT finalists!




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