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Another year, another finalist for top teacher

The Oregon School District has put together an amazing string of nominees for Illinois Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to the latest statewide finalist, Aaron Sitze.

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

For 2 out of the past 3 years, the Oregon School District placed a teacher on the list of finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Make that 3 out of the past 4 years.

Monday’s announcement by the Illinois State Board of Education named Aaron Sitze as a finalist for 2013-14 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Sitze, who teaches English at Oregon High School, was one of 11 finalists so honored.

It’s not easy to be named a finalist. Dozens of nominations are reviewed and scored multiple times. Judges review a teacher’s background, the nominating recommendation, and letters of support from colleagues, parents and students.

Nominees are also reviewed based on student success, collaboration, continuous learning, and leadership.

The idea is to bring to the forefront the state’s best teachers, and from that group, pick the cream of the crop.

Through personal interviews, Sitze and the 10 other finalists will now compete for the top prize. The Teacher of the Year will be announced Oct. 19 at a banquet in Normal.

Sitze’s accomplishment speaks well of his abilities as a teacher and of his desire to elevate the profession to a higher level. It also speaks well of the school system that employs him.

That school system spawned two previous statewide finalists – Pamela Steele, fifth-grade science teacher, in 2012; and Kimberly Radostits, high school Spanish teacher, in 2010. Radostits was the first Sauk Valley teacher to reach the finalist round in at least the previous decade.

The people of Oregon and Mount Morris have reason to be proud of their school district and the top-performing teachers who work there.

Steele and Radostits, unfortunately, fell short in their bids to be named Teacher of the Year.

We wish the best of luck to Sitze as he pursues the statewide award.

Will the third time be the charm for an Oregon teacher?

We hope so.

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