Top Lake County educators honored at awards ceremony
Teachers and administrators from nine school districts were honored this week at the first Lake County Educator of the Year Awards ceremony.
Each of Lake County's 45 public school districts were invited to submit nominees for seven categories. In all, 21 school districts nominated 54 teachers, administrators and support personnel for consideration.
Lake County Regional Superintendent of Schools Michael Karner, who created the awards, said the number of nominations was really good for the first year.
Karner said he wanted the event to be another opportunity to recognize the hard work done by educators throughout the county.
"It was perfect timing to begin this now because of (the) pandemic and how hard they worked," said Karner, who was appointed to his position around this time last year after Roycealee Wood, who served in the role since 2002, retired due to health concerns.
Karner said nominees were kept in suspense about who had won up until the winners were read off at the ceremony Wednesday evening at the Lake County Fairgrounds.
Laura Yost, a math teacher at Wauconda High School, earned the evening's top prize, Lake County Educator of the Year. Karner said Yost scored the highest among nominees in all categories.
Karner said each of the 54 nominees was reviewed and rated by members of the executive committee of the Lake County Superintendents' Association. Whichever candidate earned the highest score in each category was selected the winner.
The event also featured a special tribute to school nurses for their hard work during the pandemic, Karner said.
Three area educators who recently have won other awards also were honored: Lakes Community High School orchestra director Elliot Hile, who was named Teacher of the Year for the North suburbs by the state board of education; Lake Zurich High School Assistant Principal Ryan Rubenstein, whom the Illinois Principals Association named Assistant Principal of the Year; and Round Lake Area District 116 Superintendent Donn Mendoza, who was selected by peers as Lake County Superintendent of the Year.
Karner said he looks forward to nominations from more districts for next year's awards.
The remaining winners are:
• Early Childhood/Elementary Educator of the Year: Bridget Pyne, second-grade teacher at Cotton Creek School in Wauconda Unit District 118.
• Middle School Educator of the Year: Carol McGill, math teacher at Milburn Middle School in Millburn School District 24.
• High School Educator of the Year: Joe May, English teacher at Lake Zurich High School in District 95.
• School Administrator of the Year: Michael Grenda, principal at Neal Math Academy in North Chicago District 187.
• Education Service Personnel of the Year: Luis Cortez, technology technician in Round Lake Area District 116.
• Education Support Personnel of the Year: Tammie Carpenter, special education paraprofessional in Woodland Elementary District 50.
• Recognition Award from the regional superintendent: Jon Salaban, career and technical education teacher at Antioch Community High School in District 117.