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Celebrating Rural & Small Schoolteachers during Teacher Appreciation Week!

Teachers are the cornerstone of our rural schools and communities. The Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools was thrilled to see the great responses from our network to nominate rural educators of all types whom they respect and admire. Thank you to everyone who participated, and especially to our rural educators across Illinois working to build successful students and strong communities.


“Mrs. Priddy is invaluable to not only her class but the entire school.”

 - Submitted by Jamie Kerley on behalf of Anissa Priddy, Buncombe CSD #43, Buncombe


“Mrs. Davis has served BGS for over 2 decades and embodies what an effective educator should be!”

 - Submitted by Jamie Kerley on behalf of Junita Davis, Bunbombe CSD #43, Buncombe


“Kathie Privia is an absolutely exceptional teacher that holds her students to incredibly high standards. She pushes all students to achieve at their highest potential in her classroom. She has been a consistent leader within our building and does everything in her power to ensure that students can effectively learn in her class to the best of their ability. I truly appreciate her as a teacher and we are lucky to have her at A-C Central High School!”

 - Submitted by Anthony Mansur on behalf of Kathie Privia, A-C Central CUSD #262, Ashland


“Porscha Stone is a dedicated teacher who stays on the forefront of innovations in education. She is the best kindergarten teacher I have ever worked with. She is kind to her students while providing them learning opportunities at every opportunity. She works well with staff and functions as an instructional leader for early elementary grade levels. She mentors others and all teachers really look towards her expertise. We are lucky to have her!”

 - Submitted by Ashley Trueblood on behalf of Porscha Stone, A-C Central CUSD #262, Ashland


“Thank you Brittany and Kathy for helping your students go beyond the classroom walls! They are so lucky to have you.”

 - Submitted by Savannah Franklund on behalf of Brittany Culjan and Kathy Schultz, Waltham CCSD #185, North Utica


“Lesley is a dedicated staff member who creates a positive school culture. She is dependable and always willing to organize student or teacher events. Lesley shows her passion for teaching by leading engaging and inspiring lessons for her students.”

 - Submitted by Erik Van Hoveln on behalf of Lesley Bake, Windsor CUSD #1, Windsor


“Thank you, Carlin, for your creativity and passion for both your students and community! And, marrying the two together to create the sense of place for your students - you are amazing!”

 - Submitted by Savannah Franklund on behalf of Carlin Smock, Carmi-White County CUSD #5, Carmi


“Pam is passionate about her community and the historical roots. Pam is innovative and a teacher-leader for her students. Pam allows her students to explore new ideas, and paves the way for creative learning and breaking down the classroom walls.”

 - Submitted by Savannah Franklund on behalf of Pamela Turner, Jonesboro ESD #43, Jonesboro


“Lisa fosters strong connections with her students, and allows them to bring new ideas to her. Lisa supported her students in their desire to improve their school grounds, giving them a strong sense of pride for their school and community. Thank you for all you do, Lisa!”

 - Submitted by Savannah Franklund on behalf of Lisa Wilt, Ohio CHSD #505, Ohio


“Mrs. Sharp is an AMAZING kindergarten teacher at Apollo Elementary in Aledo, Illinois! She goes above and beyond to make sure her Kindergarten students are successful. She is such a kind and caring teacher that knows what is best for each and every student. Her students feel loved and welcomed every day, and her classroom management is the best around. She is a a great leader in our building and a mentor for first and second year teachers. Mrs. Sharp is a phenomenal teacher who will be greatly missed by everyone when she retires in a few years.”

 - Submitted by Chad Robertson on behalf of Staci Sharp, Mercer County SD #404, Aledo


“Cassandra is a champion for her high school students and her school district! She joined the Educator Advisory Council through Advance Illinois to learn more about how policy affects her students and how she can strengthen her voice as an advocate.”

 - Submitted by Maty Ortega Cruz on behalf of Cassandra Hays, Trico CUSD #176, Campbell Hill


“Alex is a champion for her elementary school students and her school district! She joined the Educator Advisory Council through Advance Illinois to learn more about how policy affects her students and how she can strengthen her voice as an advocate.”

 - Submitted by Maty Ortega Cruz on behalf of Alexandra Renko, South Beloit CUSD #320, South Beloit


“Bill is an advocate for all students! He currently serves as the co-chair of the Advance Illinois Educator Advisory Council leading a group of educators in advocacy work, among several other leadership positions.”

 - Submitted by Maty Ortega Cruz on behalf of Bill Polasky, Meridian CUSD #223, Stillman Valley


“John is a passionate administrator who works to ensure his students are supported as individuals. He is a proud principal in southern Illinois, who is striving to become more informed on the policy landscape across Illinois and how it impacts his school district.”

 - Submitted by Maty Ortega Cruz on behalf of John Giffin, Vienna HSD #133, Vienna


“Megan serves as a bilingual educator, during a time when our state faces a bilingual educator shortage! She is also a senior Educator Advisory council member with Advance Illinois, and continually learning the different ways she can raise the experiences of her students in this work.”

 - Submitted by Maty Ortega Cruz on behalf of Megan Zamora, Meridian CUSD #223, Stillman Valley


“Rebecca is a resilient educator who serves high school-aged students. She is the longest standing member of the Educator Advisory council with Advance Illinois and serves on the Advance Illinois Board of Directors representing educators from across the state. She is continually representing her students and rural schools in all she does.”

 - Submitted by Maty Ortega Cruz on behalf of Rebecca Wattleworth, Warrensburg-Latham CUSD #11, Warrensburg


“Teresa is a Title 1 Reading Specialist and year after year, she recognizes her students require different support. She is a dedicated educator and lifelong learner. She is also a senior Educator Advisory council member with Advance Illinois, and continually learning the different ways she can raise the experiences of her students in this work.”

 - Submitted by Maty Ortega Cruz on behalf of Teresa Eden, Meridian CUSD #223, Monroe Center


Thank you again to all who submitted these shoutouts, and to our teachers in rural and small schools for all that you do! We encourage readers to send some love to a teacher you appreciate this week.

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