An elementary school teacher in the Glenview School District #34 bilingual program has been selected by the Illinois Education Association (IEA) as this year’s recipient of its Human and Civil Rights Award.

Carly Spina was recognized for the honor on Thursday at the annual Representative Assembly of the IEA. Some 1,200 delegates, guests and state dignitaries attended the event in Rosemont.

“Carly Spina is a first-rate educator, humanitarian and an inspiration to other educators,” said IEA President Cinda Klickna. “She is dedicated to her school district, her association and her community. She’s a leader who enriches the lives of students through community outreach and her dedication to the proposition that all students can and should learn and grow.”

Spina teaches grades 3-5 at Hoffman Elementary School, a school where a sixth of the student population is Hispanic. Many of the families in the district are economically disadvantaged and facing significant challenges with language.

In announcing the award, Klickna described Spina as having “created a whole child educational environment for her students, one that fosters a culture of safety and respect, engagement in learning, and pride of self and community.”

Spina helped create a teacher/parent organization for Spanish speaking families. The program provides outreach monthly for families through dinner meetings at the school. Teachers also make home visits to Hispanic households to provide students with English reading time.

As an annual project, Spina requires her third graders to write letters to colleges across the country, requesting information, bumper stickers and pennants. Students then create bulletin boards with the items to help inspire their future goals of attending college.

The criteria for selecting the award recipient include contributions to civil rights, community service and/or humanitarian endeavors.

The IEA Human and Civil Rights Award is named after former the president of the IEA and the National Education Association, Reg Weaver. The IEA is the state’s largest organization of school employees.

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