IFT members named 2018 Teacher of the Year finalists

by Amy Excell | Aug 22, 2017
Two IFT educators have been nominated to win ISBE's annual award for teaching excellence.
Two outstanding IFT members were among the teachers named this week as finalists in the 2018 Illinois State Board of Education’s annual “Those Who Excel” educator recognition program. One winner will be named “Teacher of the Year” in October.
2018 TOY Finalist Valarie Berger
Valarie Berger is a member of the West Suburban Teachers Union (Local 571). She teaches family and consumer sciences at West Leyden High School in Franklin Park.

2018 TOY Finalist James Connelly
James Connelly
is also a member of Local 571. He is an industrial technology teacher at Morton West High School in Berwyn.

“Teaching is an incredibly challenging – and equally rewarding –  job. Those who excel at it deserve to be respected, acknowledged, and rewarded,” said IFT President Dan Montgomery. “The IFT is so proud to call educators like Valarie and James members of our union family. They epitomize the dedication and skill of all the educators who go above and beyond every day for their students and their communities. Well done!"

IFT members have a long history of winning the top award. In 2016, the winner was Kim Thomas, a member of the Peoria Federation of Teachers (Local 780). Northwest Suburban Teachers Union (Local 1211) member Steve Elza was the 2015 winner. 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).  

Nearly 250 nominations were reviewed for this year’s award 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 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be announced during the "Those Who Excel" banquet on October 28 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 deserving IFT finalists!