IEA honored those with an outstanding commitment to their schools, their students and to public education at this year’s IEA Representative Assembly.
“Our members are truly outstanding,” said IEA President Kathi Griffin. “Our education support professionals, our teachers, and our retirees put students first. We know many of our members believe going above and beyond in their schools is just doing their jobs, but we believe hard work should be recognized. We want all of our educators to know their work is valued and deserves to be honored.”
The IEA award recipients were nominated and chosen for their awards by their peers.
The 2019 IEA RA Award Winners
Illinois State Board of Education Teacher of the Year – Susan Converse
Susan Converse, who teaches English to ninth- through 12th-grade students in Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7, was named 2019 Illinois Teacher of the Year by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in October. Converse runs a student-run coffee shop at Edwardsville High School called the Tiger Den. Her employees are students with disabilities. They carry out all aspects of the Tiger Den while learning life skills. The Tiger Den also gives back to the community by donating some of the money raised to local charities. As Illinois Teacher of the Year, Converse will be traveling around the state, speaking at teaching workshops, education conferences and community meetings. Converse also will represent Illinois at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and at the National Teacher of the Year Program. To learn more about Converse and The Tiger Den coffee shop, watch this video.
Education Support Professional of the Year – Julie Spaargaren
Julie Spaargaren, a paraprofessional at C. E. Miller Elementary School in Westmont and a 16-year member of the IEA, was named 2019 IEA Education Support Professional (ESP) of the Year. Spaargaren helps run the “Good News Club” in her district, regularly volunteers at a local food pantry and helps with church fundraising efforts.
Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award – Mary Ann Rivera
Mary Ann Rivera is a paraeducator at Lyons Township High School in Lagrange and has been an IEA member for the past 13 years. In the fall of 2017, Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm, slammed into Rivera’s homeland, Puerto Rico. Rivera collected school supply donations from her school coworkers and from others all across the country. Rivera planned to bring the donations with her on her summer trip to Puerto Rico. However, she ended up with far more supplies than she could ever carry. She sent more than 100 boxes of supplies to Puerto Rico, straight into the hands of students and teachers there.
Bob Haisman Teacher of the Year – Shawn Mann
Shawn Mann has been a special education teacher for the Colene Hoose Elementary school in Normal for four years. He is well-respected, known by students, colleagues, and administrators as caring, creative, collaborative and committed. His passion for his work, for his students and for public education is evident not only in his work in the classroom but also in his work in the summer at Autism Camp and in his involvement with local efforts related to ACEs and trauma informed practices. Shawn brings energy and enthusiasm to all that he does as an educator and as an advocate.
Bob Haisman Student of the Year – Katie Barr
Katie Barr is currently studying to become a teacher at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Barr is also a political activist and recognizes the best way to promote public education is to be out informing everyday citizens about public education. During the 2018 campaign season, Katie organized a “get out the vote” effort at UIUC, focused on candidates who support public education in Illinois and across the country. She co-ordinated IEA Student Program’s first-ever Legacy Project at Hubble Middle School in Wheaton where she brought IEA student members and community members together to showcase the importance of collaboration and how a high-quality public school can meet the needs of all students and the community.
Mary Lou and Keith Hauge Award – Martha Bowman
Martha Bowman is a retired teacher who now lives in Metropolis. Her commitment to our students and to public education spans more than three decades. She has been a member of the IEA for 34 years. Bowman has been the president of the Deep South IEA-Retired chapter since 2005. She’s been on the IEA Elections Committee, IEA Legislative Committee, IEA-Retired Planning Committee, IEA-Retired Budget Committee and served as an NEA conventions coordinator. Bowman also has served as a mentor both in the IEA-Retired Mentor Program and for new retired colleagues who want to become involved and active in IEA-Retired. She has mentored newly retired members to become active in IEA-Retired leadership.
Illinois’ Nominee for the NEA Foundation Awards for Teaching Excellence – Lindsey Jensen
Lindsey Jensen is the Illinois nominee for this award. Jensen teaches AP English, composition, poetry, creative writing, and American literature at Dwight Township High School. She also involves her students in advocacy efforts so they can “recognize first-hand the power they harbor to change the world.” Lindsey identifies the polarizing time in the country’s political and social climate and understands educators, “must model the kind of compassion and love we want to see in the world.” Throughout the past year, as the Illinois State Board of Education 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year, Jensen has traveled extensively and presented on a variety of topics, including “Creating Powerful Partnerships” and “Failing Forward: The Power of Positivity” to a variety of educator stakeholder groups as well as participated in meaningful professional development experiences. Jensen’s commitment to the classroom and innovations for her students make her an outstanding candidate for the NEA Foundation for Excellence in Teaching Award.