District 202 School Board member Mary Wilkerson was among 38 individuals and teams of people from around Illinois to receive top honors from the Illinois State Board of Education for their outstanding contributions to education.
In addition, seven Evanston Township High School faculty members – math teacher Richard Kaplan, counselor Brian Cadogan, and the Spanish Heritage Learners Team: Kathy Pino, Fernando Campos, Marita Hanley, Kari Jaeckel and Graciella Napoles – are also award recipients.
Ms. Wilkerson, a native Evanstonian and ETHS alumna, received the highest award, the Award of Excellence. Now serving her third term on the ETHS School Board, Ms. Wilkerson has helped ETHS build partnerships with local agencies, City government, businesses, and area colleges and universities to create career-based programs and internships. In addition, she has drawn on her community connections to found recognition programs for African-American students and teachers.
Mr. Kaplan says he believes that education is an essential tool for righting social injustice. He teaches students of all levels, from algebra support to Advanced Placement calculus, and has promoted the importance of learning math. His ability to motivate students is legendary, including collaborative group work that involves students in the teaching process, and study-group sessions no one wants to miss. Mr. Kaplan’s efforts have tripled ETHS enrollment in college-level math courses, especially among students of color.
Mr. Cadogan has been at ETHS just four years but has already emerged as a leader. He developed a summer school course on study skills for incoming freshmen and volunteers in an after-school homework center for at-risk students. He coordinated ETHS’s Black History Month programming, chaperoned and participated in national conferences for the Minority Student Achievement Network, and directed the summer school last year.
In 1999 an ETHS Spanish teacher identified the unmet needs of Spanish-speaking students not in the bilingual program. These heritage learners of Spanish, predominantly children of immigrants, needed a program tailored to their linguistic and cultural needs. The Spanish Heritage Learners program began with one course and now encompasses four levels. The team of five dynamic teachers develops and refines curriculum as students’ needs evolve, providing wrap-around support, sharing ideas about pedagogy and organizing field trips to enhance students’ cultural knowledge. The team has also founded a network of teachers who teach Spanish heritage learners in Northern Illinois schools.