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September , 2017
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Former Oak Park PE teacher recognized at August Board meeting

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Members of the State Board of Education honored Sandy Noel of Oak Park as part of Illinois’ “Year of the Volunteer” program. The initiative, established by a Senate resolution, aims to “engage all generations as participants, planners, organizers and leaders of the volunteer infrastructure.”

“Sandy is a committed member of her community who works hard to help improve the lives of children and adults alike,” said Board member Eligio Pimentel of Oak Park. “I’m honored to recognize such a key component in Illinois’ health community.”

During 2015, Board members are choosing to honor individuals within their communities for their dedication and volunteer service. Pimentel selected Noel, a former physical education teacher, for her outstanding service in promoting health and fitness to children around the state.

“Health and fitness serve a vital role in students’ education,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Healthy habits are developed at a young age and it’s valuable to have a role model in young lives to encourage those habits on a daily basis.”

Noel, a physical education and fitness instructor for more than 35 years, has encouraged thousands of students to increase activity and make good food choices in order to lead healthier lives. In 2012, Noel was selected to co-chair the Governor’s Council on Health and Fitness. In that role, she has worked on issues such as requiring daily physical education for students and urging teachers to get creative with fun, physical, educational activities in the classroom.

While working at Hatch Elementary in Oak Park, Noel helped create a healthier environment at the school by implementing a waste reduction program, school garden, healthy classroom parties, and healthy family events. She also promotes quality PE and school health to other educators by presenting at state, regional, and national conventions.

Noel has also served on the core team for Oak Park’s Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) initiative, a national program created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to focus community resources on reducing community barriers to healthy living.

Noel is a recipient of numerous awards throughout her career, including the 2003 Those Who Excel teacher excellence award, the Golden Apple Foundation award for excellence in teaching, and the USDA Certificate for Leadership in Promoting Wellness. Noel is currently a professor of education at Concordia University.

The Senate established the Year of the Volunteer in response to the “Volunteering and Civic Life in America” report by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship that showed only about a quarter of Illinoisans volunteered in 2013. According to Senate Resolution 1002, research shows that “Illinoisans who do not volunteer would like to, but simply do not know how to get connected to service opportunities.” In cooperation with fellow organizations, ISBE urges community members of all ages to explore volunteer opportunities, particularly those related to children and their education.

ISBE supports the initiative in cooperation with Generations Serving Generations, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Illinois Department on Aging, the Serve Illinois Commission, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board, and the Illinois Senate via Senate Resolution 1002.

For more information on how to take part in the Year of the Volunteer, go to www.serve.illinois.gov.

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