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Sandwich educator named Illinois Teacher of the Year

Pam Reilly second grade teacher Sandwich District 403's Woodbury Elementary is finalist for Illinois Teacher Year. On Thursday she passed

Pam Reilly, a second grade teacher at Sandwich District 403's Woodbury Elementary, is a finalist for Illinois Teacher of the Year. On Thursday, she passed out felt food cut-outs for students during a reading of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." | Kalyn Belsha~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 22, 2013 6:22AM

The Illinois State Board of Education has named a second-grade teacher from Sandwich Community Unit School District as the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

One of 11 finalists, Pam Reilly of Woodbury Elementary was announced as this year’s top educator during Saturday night’s 39th annual Those Who Excel/Illinois Teacher of the Year banquet in Normal.

“Pam’s passion for teaching and her enthusiasm for helping her students succeed is so genuine and sincere that students are immediately drawn to her,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “She really inspires her students, their parents and her colleagues and I’m confident Pam will be an excellent representative of Illinois teachers.”

Now in her 12th year of teaching, Reilly is recognized as a collaborator and a leader by her colleagues in the Sandwich district, home of six schools serving more than 2,300 students in northern Illinois. She seeks advice and guidance from teachers in the higher grades so that she can help her students be prepared for the challenges they will face after they leave her classroom.

Colleague and third-grade teacher Doni Morgan says Reilly is “the perfect blend of light heartedness and commitment.”

She said that Reilly stresses to students that they are in control of their learning and that although she may do the planning and preparation for the school day, it is the students who are doing the important work.

A graduate of Aurora University with a bachelor’s degree in education, Reilly holds a master’s degree in education from National-Louis University.

The 11 finalists for Teacher of the Year were interviewed and videotaped, and those interviews were scored again before going to Koch for a final decision.

As Illinois Teacher of the Year, Reilly will have opportunities to share her knowledge and expertise outside the classroom. Beginning in the 2014 spring semester, she will be available to speak at teaching workshops, educational conferences and community meetings. She will represent Illinois at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers, ING and Target. Reilly will also receive products from SMARTer Kids.

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