U-46 awards Accent on Achievement to staff nominated for Kane County Educator of the Year

  • Juan Figueroa

    Juan Figueroa

Updated 5/9/2022 12:19 PM

On Monday, May 9, the Elgin Area School District U-46 board will host the "Top Two Percent" ceremony at South Elgin High School to honor the academic success and accomplishments of graduating seniors. The students are the top-achieving graduates from the district's five comprehensive high schools and are featured on the U-46 website in the district's Class of 2022 section.

Also Monday, May 9, the board will recognize Elgin High School's Juan Figueroa, who received the Regional Superintendent Award during the Kane County Regional Office of Education's annual Kane County Educator of the Year awards banquet on April 29, as well as three other nominees from U-46.


Figueroa teaches college-level Dual Credit courses in Spanish in addition to Spanish Language Arts for Elgin High School students in the Dual Language program.

"Mr. Figueroa's dedication to our students and school community is an example of excellence for our profession," said Elgin High Principal Jamie Crosen.

Teaching is Figueroa's second career; he had worked in the banking industry for more than 25 years when the Great Recession hit, and he decided to change careers to teaching, earning a master's degree in education and special education and a bilingual/ESL certificate. He has taught in U-46 since 2009, first at Channing Elementary, then at Ellis Middle School, and then at Elgin High School starting in 2017.

Figueroa said he strives to create a classroom that is a safe learning space for students where they can develop a sense of community, express themselves, and learn to embrace the differences of others. "I use teaching strategies that encourage students to contribute with what they bring and in the way they can. My role as the teacher is to assist each student in developing their own potential," he said. "I promote a curriculum that incorporates different learning styles, as well as make the content relevant to the students' lives."

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The Kane County Regional Office of Education hosts the annual award ceremony to recognize and celebrate educators within the region. School districts, staff, and administrators nominate exceptional individuals who demonstrate a love for learning and a commitment to education. The April 29 event marked the 46th Kane County Educator of the Year banquet.

Three other educators for U-46 were nominated for an Educator of the Year award. Along with Figueroa, they will be recognized with an "Accent on Achievement" certificate during the 6 p.m. special board meeting in the auditorium at South Elgin High School, 760 E. Main St.

• Faviola Ximena Escobar, a Dual Language teacher of Spanish Language Arts and Social Studies at Larsen Middle School in Elgin, who was nominated in the Middle School Teacher Category

• Dr. Steve Tucker, Assistant Principal at South Elgin High School, who was nominated in the Administrator Category

• Sandy Ritter, a special-education teacher at Tefft Middle School in Streamwood, who was nominated in the Middle School Teacher Category


Following the awarding of an Accent on Achievement to the four teachers, the Board of Education will honor the students who have finished in the top two percent of their graduating class.

"Congratulations to our top two percent of the class of 2022," said Superintendent Dr. Tony Sanders. "We are proud of their dedication to academic achievement."

The top two percent of graduating seniors are as follows:

• Bartlett High School: Agilan Gunashankar, Anthony Martin, Asmita Shah, Carter Eid, Desiree Oliveros, Evan Bulatek, Jillian Murdoch, Lorenzo Marasigan, Marcos Sanson, Ronit Nagarapu

• Elgin High School: Yahya Arastu, Nicole Babiarz, Shweta Dhar, Sarah Erickson, Emily Flores, Sofia Heinrich, Abby Joyce, Maia Lesniak, Michelle Maslon, Vanessa Medrano, Angeline Nato, Jenny Nguyen, and Alejandra Rodriguez-Garcia

• Larkin High School: Jackson Baker, Ximena Bermudez, Alberto Bonilla, Emma Hahn, Lilah Hanson, Joana Hernandez, Sarah Leardi, Leah Mack, Ella Nail, Alejandro Ramirez, Luca Tendy, and Jordan Vopat

South Elgin High School: Abigail Choi, Anna Creagan, Ashlin Lee, Caroline Croft, Ella Winterhalder, Emma Hunter, Gino Santini, Liliana Ernandez, Loreal Wilson, Michael Walczuk, Rachel McClow, Salvi Patel, and Yuri You

• Streamwood High School: HeeRan Yang, Jennifer Voravong, Joshua Manzano, Kaitlyn Esteban, Katelyn Nguyen, Kayla Ticherafi, Mishael Mazhar, and Vanessa Pitsenbarger

The board of education meeting will also be streamed live on the district's YouTube channel.


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