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IFT members named finalists for Teacher of the Year


Three outstanding IFT members were among the teachers selected as finalists in the 2017 Illinois State Board of Education’s annual “Those Who Excel” educator recognition program. One winner will be named “Teacher of the Year” at an awards banquet on October 22.

Candace Hamilton Local 4130 TOY Finalist 2017

Candace Hamilton
is a member of the Whiteside Federation of Teachers, Local 4130. She teaches physical science to 8th grade students at Whiteside Middle School in Whiteside School District 115. ​

Elizabeth Mendoza Local 571 TOY Finalist 2017

Elizabeth Mendoza
is a member of the West Suburban Teachers Union, Local 571. She teaches Spanish for students in grades 10-12 at Morton East High School in Morton High School District 201.

Anthony Zarate Local 4343 TOY Finalist 2017
Anthony Zarate is a member of Chicago ACTS, Local 4343. He teaches English language arts to 7th and 8th grade students at UCSN Brighton Park, a charter school in Chicago.

“Teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it is also one of the most challenging. The men and women who excel at it deserve our respect, support, and recognition for their dedication to students and the profession,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “The IFT is truly proud to represent outstanding educators like Candace, Elizabeth, and Anthony and to thank them them for a job well done."

IFT members have a long, proud history of winning the top award. The 2016 winner was Kim Thomas, an eighth-grade math teacher at Woodruff Career and Technical Center in Peoria and a member of the Peoria Federation of Teachers, Local 780. Steve Elza, an automotive technology teacher at William Fremd High School in Palatine and member of the Northwest Suburban Teachers Union, Local 1211, was the winner in 2015. Other recent IFT winners include: Brian Curtin, Local 1211 (2013), 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 10 finalists were selected.  

The 2017 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.

Click here for the complete list of finalists.

Congratulations and best of luck to our IFT finalists!




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