Madison Teacher Carrie Molinero Named
South Suburbs Teacher of the Year by ISBE
District 181 is thrilled to announce that Madison 2nd grade teacher, Carrie Molinero, was named South Suburbs Teacher of the Year by the Illinois State Board of Education! Mrs. Molinero was nominated as our District representative for the Illinois Teacher of the Year Award by our community and then selected as the South Suburbs top nominee by ISBE. Statewide, there are more than 800 Districts that are eligible to nominate a District representative. This is a prestigious honor, and one well-deserved for Mrs. Molinero! 

Since 1970, ISBE has sponsored the Illinois Teacher of the Year program, recognizing the best of the teaching profession in Illinois. All public and nonpublic preK-12 educators in Illinois with more than five years of teaching experience are eligible. The top nominees from eight regions are designated as Regional Teachers of the Year and the Illinois Teacher of the Year is selected from that cohort. State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala will make her final selection of the 2022 Illinois Teacher of the Year later this spring.

Madison Principal Barb Shanahan and D181 Superintendent Dr. Hector Garcia shared the news with Mrs. Molinero during a surprise visit to her classroom (pictured below).
Last spring, we solicited nominations from our community and staff for this award. We received an astounding 60 nominations for 30 individuals. After reviewing the nominations, our administrative team selected Mrs. Molinero based on the number of nominations she received and the content of the nomination letters. The District will honor all 30 nominees in its publications and its top 5 nominated teachers at a Board meeting later this year. Nominations for 2023 Teacher of the Year will be shared in our newsletter once they open on ISBE's website.
Here are some of the things Mrs. Molinero's nominators had to say about her:

Mrs. Molinero has taught 25 years total — 23 years at Madison school and in second grade for nearly all that time. Currently, she is on the ELA committee for second grade Districtwide and has served on this committee for about 11 years. She helped to write the District curriculum for second grade, created all the second grade common assessments, and helped to select the reading program they are currently using. She has been on the technology committee at Madison for the past 7 years and has piloted Smartboards, the front row sound system, and iPad usage at the elementary level. For the past 5 years, she has been using Seesaw and she just received her official certification as a Seesaw Instructor. Along this vein, she has presented Seesaw (uses, management, and more) at major conferences like the Illinois Computing Educators Conference and at elementary buildings outside of this district such as Homer 33c, Meadow Lane, and Summit. In addition to Seesaw, Mrs. Molinero is working to become a Certified Google Instructor. Over the years, she has written several grants through the District 181 Foundation, including the one for a former three-season greenhouse at Madison School. In a normal year, she also leads a Garden Club at Madison so students can work with her to plant seeds and grow vegetables. Over the summer, Mrs. Molinero meets with students to harvest and care for the garden. Their extra veggies are donated to the Hinsdale Food Pantry. 

Mrs. Molinero has helped ensure that our son has thrived academically and emotionally, and we praise her for how she has been able to make over twenty 7- and 8-year-olds scattered across our community feel like a family [during remote learning]. Our son has bonded and connected to Mrs. Molinero unlike he has with any other teacher, and it is because she has taken what is a horribly trying situation and made it work for our remote cohort. I commend Mrs. Molinero for how she has tirelessly and relentlessly worked and tweaked and refined her lesson plans and teaching styles to not only keep her remote classroom learners engaged, but also ensured that they know they are cared for. I would have thought that nearly impossible before our experience, but she has done this with grace and excellence.

She uses humor and humility as she speaks, and has mastered the inevitable classroom management challenges in ways that allow students the freedom to share and participate, but also the discipline to keep learning at the center.
Congratulations to our D181
Those Who Excel Award Recipients!
District 181 is honored to announce that four individuals and one team representing our District received an Illinois State Board of Education Those Who Excel Award! 
  • Administrator: Brandon Todd, The Lane Principal - Meritorious Service
  • Community Volunteer: Denys Kang - Oak - Meritorious Service
  • Educational Service Personnel: Cathy McCook - Walker (RISE), Instructional Assistant - Meritorious Service
  • Student Support Personnel: Maureen Laschober - The Lane, Speech Pathologist - Meritorious Service
  • Team: TOSAS - Districtwide, Bill Eggert, Aubrey Ignace, Gabrielle Pastiak, and Jessica Schultz - Meritorious Service
Last spring, we solicited nominations from our community for these awards and received some outstanding recommendations. Letters of recommendation as well as an extensive application process were completed to finalize the nomination. 

Since 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education has sponsored Those Who Excel to honor individuals who have made​​ significant contributions to our state's public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools. Nomination materials are evaluated by a selection committee comprised of individuals who represent a variety of educational organizations. Nominees then receive a designation of Excellence, Meritorious, or Recognition.

We will honor our Those Who Excel winners at a Board meeting later this year and share nomination information for the 2023 Those Who Excel awards in an upcoming District newsletter once the forms are open. Congratulations to all of our 2022 winners!

Here are a few things our nominators had to say about these outstanding individuals:
Administrator: Brandon Todd - The Lane, Principal

During the pandemic, Mr. Todd served as The Lane principal and also took on the role of the remote school principal. Our full remote students from all seven elementary schools were combined into remote classes which meant most students were grouped with unfamiliar students and the learning environment was much different than in years past. From the first day of school, Mr. Todd created an environment that fostered the development of social-emotional learning but also kept at the forefront high expectations for student achievement and growth.

Mr. Todd co-facilitates a D181 Science Committee, chairs the Digital Learning Environment Committee, and was heavily involved in our balanced literacy program adoption and implementation. He takes a personal interest in each of the students and families at The Lane and is outside every morning greeting them all by name.  

Mr. Todd was an approachable administrator who was able to be frank and positive, communicating openly and always advocating for the students' best interests. I enjoyed volunteering at The Lane and on each visit, I could count on running into Mr. Todd walking the halls and interacting with students and staff. It always seemed as if he knew every student and had a unique rapport with them as individuals.
Community Volunteer: Denys Kang - Oak, Volunteer

There is hardly an event at Oak that isn’t supported by Denys’s time and talent. From participating in her children’s classroom to volunteering at the school talent show to helping run the annual International Festival, she is a positive presence around school, both in-person, when possible, and virtually. She is thoughtful and kind beyond measure as well. Denys has an infectious “can-do” attitude no matter the situation. She is always, without exception, willing to push up her sleeves to get a task done.

The students at Oak School also benefit from Denys’ devotion through several special events and celebrations. Denys hosts a birthday-month celebration in the library every month where students play games and get special attention. She is also the sole organizer of the much-loved “lunch-in” program. Because it is such a labor-intensive job (and because most would never consider taking on this task, Denys has even offered her services after her children are gone from Oak.

As Chairperson of Cultural Night and International Fest, Denys has ensured that all Oak families have opportunities to share their unique family heritage. She organizes in-school assemblies that provide both educational value as well as entertainment. For International Fest, Denys dedicates a yearlong quest to feature a specific country and highlight its culture.
Educational Service Personnel: Cathy McCook - Walker (RISE), Instructional Assistant

Cathy supports a challenging special needs classroom while providing a positive and innovative approach for managing the behaviors of our most difficult students. She works collaboratively with the Educational Team and takes into account both students’ ability levels, as well as their social-emotional needs when implementing instruction. 

Cathy was a member of the classroom team who attended multiple training sessions that would help her students be successful. She actively offered suggestions, implemented new strategies, and collected pertinent data that lead to student growth throughout the school year. Even with a mask, Cathy is able to communicate positively with her colleagues and students through gestures, humor, and cheers!

Cathy brought to the role many years of expertise supporting students with complex needs, as well as her background in nursing. Cathy has gone above and beyond for her students. She is caring and compassionate. She has a calm demeanor which is supportive for students and staff. She is dedicated to her craft and constantly seeks new and better ways to support students.
Student Support Personnel: Maureen Laschober - The Lane, Speech Pathologist

Ms. Laschober is known throughout our region as one of the best in her field. In fact, we’ve had many families say they have moved to the District specifically because they heard how good Ms. Laschober is at what she does.

This past year Ms. Laschober began a new Bread Tag Initiative, asking students to collect bag tags that can be turned into wheelchairs. She gave all the speech students a job, making phone calls, videos for the school, etc. It’s a truly beautiful project that helps others and also advances important speech skills. 

Another project she came up with was for students to create bracelets and distribute them to staff. She bought the materials for making bracelets, including beads with letters on them. The students (many of whom need practice with fine motor skills) assembled the bracelets during their free time. Each student passed the bracelets out to staff and had to introduce themselves, explain the activity, and offer the staff member a choice of bracelets. The students then thanked the staff member and offered a farewell greeting. Each of these seemingly simple verbal tasks are activities that are difficult for these students, yet a very needed functional skill.
Team: TOSAS - Bill Eggert, Aubrey Ignace, Gabrielle Pastiak, and Jessica Schultz, District

The TOSAs are all former teachers who transitioned from teaching in elementary and middle school classrooms to supporting building principals, coaching staff, and providing meaningful experiences to students. All TOSAs have earned their Master's degrees and are lifelong learners engaging in professional learning beyond their degrees. The TOSAs work within our nine school buildings to support district initiatives and the strategic plan. They are members of all District-level committees and help to co-facilitate meetings, set agendas, lead discussion and engage in committee work with grade-level or content-based teams of teachers

My TOSA is an outstanding leader. She takes initiative on projects, displays a passionate disposition when teaching, and her knowledge is remarkable. My TOSA is always seeking out new ways to help us reach students through technology. She stays out in front of new platforms and opportunities which allow our students to engage in technology that truly captivates them and enhances their academic experience. She is a natural leader in education and I value her willingness to share her expertise with the teachers and staff of D181. 

The TOSAs are a great asset to our district. I don't feel as overwhelmed by new initiatives or new technology. The training they provide is great. Every time I've had a question, my TOSA has been able to help me quickly and is very patient! My TOSA has been an invaluable resource for me as I got the math workshop up and running in my classroom this year. She models lessons, and helps me plan and integrate technology into my lessons. She stays after school to meet with me. She is always suggesting new and exciting things for my kids to try. 
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