The Illinois State Board of Education has singled out two teachers from High School District 214 and one District program for its annual Those Who Excel Awards, a program designed to honor educators who have made significant contributions to the state's public and nonpublic schools.
Recipients of the award are nominated by their fellow educators and selected by a committee of individuals across a variety of educational organizations.
Sarah Catt, music teacher and choir director at Elk Grove High School since 2010, is one of two teachers at Elk Grove to receive the award. Described by principal Paul Kelly as a “star in the Illinois choral music world,” Catt has seen participation in the school’s vocal programs double during her time at Elk Grove and has served as guest director for a number of music programs statewide.
What's more, Catt's reach extends far beyond music, touching lives and creating a climate of affirmation that transcends all social groups in a diverse high school. In her time at Elk Grove, she has worked tirelessly to create a culture of family and a level of excellence in the program.
Patrick McGing, engineering instructor at Elk Grove High School since 2013, has implemented one of the first all-female Introduction to Engineering courses in the state, helping these students explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields in a comfortable environment. Under McGing's instruction, enrollment in the course has doubled in one year.
McGing's students have also created the District's first all-girls robotics team to design and build a robot in the District's annual robotics competition. His work with Project Lead the Way, which allows students to earn college credit while taking engineering courses at the high school, has inspired a new generation of students to excitedly apply their learning in authentic ways.
District 214’s Newcomer Center also received a Those Who Excel Award. As the only full-time center open at the secondary level in the state, the Newcomer Center serves immigrant students who are new to the U.S. and the English language. The Center has served more than 600 students from a number of countries since opening in 2002.
A team of five educators at the Newcomer Center go above and beyond in their duties to help newly-arrived students navigate through a new system and successfully transition to their home school and succeed.
Students in the program have shown higher than average growth in English proficiency compared to other English Language Learners across the country and have often gone on to success at both two-year and four-year colleges.
Recipients of the Those Who Excel awards were finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year and were honored at a banquet held in Normal, Ill., in October.