ISBE Honors Top Educators and School Personnel at Annual Those Who Excel Banquet in Normal

Illinois Teacher of the Year to be named Oct. 25

NORMAL, IL – State education officials will honor more than 230 of Illinois’ outstanding educators later this month at the 40th annual Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year banquet in Normal. Among the educators will be the 12 Teacher of the Year finalists, one of whom will be named the top Illinois educator for 2015.

“I am very proud that we have been celebrating excellence in Illinois educators for 40 years,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Recognizing these individuals who devote themselves to helping students learn and be successful is an honor. I am happy to have the opportunity to publicly thank them for their dedication to students across the state.”

Local school district leaders and members of school communities nominate candidates. The nomination includes a brief nominee biography, professional development, community involvement and a description of his or her philosophy on education and views on the state’s most pressing educational needs. Letters of recommendation are also required.

A committee of peers, organized through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), chooses the award winners who will be honored Saturday, Oct. 25, in Normal. The committee represents statewide education organizations and includes former award winners.

ISBE recently launched a new Those Who Excel webpage at The site includes the latest news about the award program, lists of Those Who Excel honorees from recent years, bios of the current Illinois Teacher of the Year and Early Career Educator of the Year, and a list of Illinois Teachers of the Year from 1970 to the present.

The categories for the Those Who Excel recognition program are:

  • Classroom teacher
  • School administrator
  • Student support personnel
  • Educational service personnel
  • School board member and/or community volunteer
  • Teams, which recognizes groups of teachers and/or administrators; citizen committees; civic organizations; parent organizations; school boards; booster clubs; and others who have a significant impact on teaching and learning in a school or district.
  • Early career educator

A total of 232 awards will be distributed during the Oct. 25 banquet with the following breakdown of winners:

  • 64 recipients of the highest award level, Excellence
  • 77 recipients of the Award of Merit
  • 91 recipients of the Award of Recognition

All teachers receiving an Award of Excellence are among the 12 finalists for the 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year. The educator named Teacher of the Year is not told prior to the award ceremony, but learns of the honor just before the conclusion of the banquet.

The Teacher of the Year serves as Illinois’ ambassador for the teaching profession during the 2014-15 school year and represents Illinois in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target. The national award is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with Voya Financial, a subsidiary of ING, and the People to People Ambassador Program.

Pam Reilly, a second-grade teacher at Woodbury Elementary School in Sandwich Community Unit School District 430, was named the 2014 Illinois Teacher at last year’s banquet.

”It has been and continues to be quite an amazing journey,” Reilly said. “I can’t express how grateful I am to be Illinois Teacher of the Year and to be recognized for a career I truly love. It is an honor and privilege to represent teachers and students across Illinois.”

Reilly and this year’s nominees will convene at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 201 Broadway St., Normal, for this year’s sold-out ceremony and banquet.

A complete list of local recipients by county can be accessed at