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Each year the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) honors exemplary teachers, administrators, student support personnel, educational service personnel, community volunteers, board members, and teams from school districts across the state. Earlier this year, four staff members and one volunteer from Evanston Township High School received recognition from the ISBE’s “Those Who Excel” recognition program for 2017-18.

William “Bill” Farmer, a biology teacher in the ETHS Science Department since 2003, received an Award of Excellence in the Classroom Teacher category and was named one of 10 finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year. He led his department’s initiative in de-tracking biology courses, enabling students to earn honors-level credit by demonstrating content mastery. He was heralded as a tireless advocate for students, teachers, and education. One of his former students remarked, “Mr. Farmer proves that he is strong and confident enough to share his personal experiences about being different with his students. In doing this, he fearlessly imprints on his students that being yourself is of the most importance, even if you feel different.”

Mr. Farmer demonstrates a strong commitment to diversity and pride of self through his active support of the LGBTQ+ community, serving as a co-sponsor for the Gender & Sexuality Alliance student club. During the 2016-17 school year, Mr. Farmer was a staff leader in launching the first LGBTQ+ Summit at ETHS where nearly 200 students participated. Summit feedback was overwhelmingly positive as many students felt empowered and affirmed in their identities, often declaring that it was the best day of their high school career.

Beth Arey received an Award of Merit in the Student Support Personnel category for her work as the College & Career Coordinator at ETHS. Her commitment to students inspired her to design two groundbreaking programs, the ICAP (Individualized Career and Academic Plan), a four-year process that supports post-secondary life planning with the help of family, teachers, and staff; and the nationally recognized team Access and Success in Advanced Placement (teamASAP), a host of Advanced Placement support programs that enable students of various backgrounds to succeed in these courses. She also holds prominent leadership roles in State and national educational associations.

ETHS parent and volunteer Patty Barbato received an Award of Recognition in the Community Volunteer category. As a parent volunteer, her long-term commitment to school service and her experience as a teacher are invaluable to ETHS. A volunteer since her children attended Evanston elementary schools, she continues her work at ETHS as a “sports mom,” a fundraiser for the Educational Foundation, and co-president of the high school’s Boosters Club. Her care and concern for students beyond athletics is shown by her creation of a tutoring program for future ETHS student-athletes and support groups to teach the students about peer pressure, leadership, and positive communication.

Angelina Harding, Student Liaison for the Deans’ Office, received an Award of Excellence in the Educational Service Personnel category. For the past 26 years at ETHS, Ms. Harding has served in a variety of roles, demonstrating strong organizational skills, excellent problem-solving abilities, an amazing wealth of knowledge, and deep compassion for students, all qualities that led her to become the first recipient of ETHS’s in-house, peer-nominated Spirit Award. Ms. Harding also supports the ETHS Summer School office and serves as the Homeless Liaison Assistant, employing her great empathy and resourcefulness to provide assistance to students in need of these services.

In the category of School Administrator, Associate Principal for Student Services Taya Kinzie received an Award of Recognition. She draws upon her skills as a former social worker, specifically those focusing on students’ social and emotional needs, to encompass a holistic approach to student well-being. She has also served as a dean, working with colleagues to transform the department’s approach from disciplinary to intervention-based by introducing positive options such as peer juries, mediation, and peace circles. Under her guidance as an associate principal during the past two years, ETHS Student Services has expanded with the aid of community resources to include services for homeless students, undocumented students, LGBTQ+ students, students in need of credit recovery for graduation, and other previously marginalized but now increasingly emergent students.