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CUC alumnus among top 10 Illinois Teachers of the Year


James Connelly, an industrial technology teacher at Morton West High School in Berwyn, IL, was selected as one of 10 Illinois Teacher of the Year finalists for 2018 in recognition of his “outstanding contributions to Illinois Education.” The prestigious designation was narrowed down from 234 initial nominations. Connelly graduated from Concordia University Chicago with a Master of Arts in differentiated instruction in December 2017.

“During his time at Concordia-Chicago, Jim was an excellent, conscientious and thoughtful student,” said Dr. Laura LaSalle, assistant professor and program leader for differentiated instruction at CUC. “He genuinely wanted to learn how to connect with his students and become a better teacher to meet the diverse needs in his classroom.”

Connelly was honored at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) “Those Who Excel” banquet in Normal, IL. “It was a wonderful experience to be celebrated at the banquet and I was very proud to attend,” he said. “To be surrounded by so many accomplished people was quite an honor, and I am both pleased and humbled to have been recognized in such a way.”

LaSalle continued, “Jim is a servant leader. In his work at Morton West High School, he mentors new teachers and helps his colleagues understand the importance of creating a student-centered learning environment. He also coaches students on life skills, by helping them research careers and aspirations for life after high school.”

The ISBE honored the finalists in late 2017. The Illinois Teacher of the Year selection committee is composed of administrators, teachers, educational service personnel, student support personnel and past Teacher of the Year winners.