A Tweeting and blogging educator from Naperville was named Illinois Teacher of the Year Saturday night.
Josh Stumpenhorst, who teaches language arts and social science to sixth grade students at Lincoln Junior High School, got the nod over eight other finalists and nearly 200 nominees.
The nine-year veteran credited his teaching blog, which he said gets about 10,000 hits a month, and his Twitter account with more than 4,000 followers for the recognition. Stumpenhorst wants to open up his classroom to the outside.
“It’s a very supportive community, the parents, the kids, the school and the district. I’m not really hamstrung. It allows me to do a lot of things and got me where I am,” said Stumpenhorst after getting the award at a banquet in downstate Bloomington.
Asked whether he had advice for teachers who want to improve their craft, Stumpenhorst said: “Never think you’re good enough. As soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, it’s probably time to move away. You can learn from your students and learn from your colleagues.”
Stumpenhorst, who lives in Oswego, wanted to be a teacher from a young age. He is known in Naperville Community School District 203 for his technology-based initiatives, including the creation of a computer club, which developed a bi-weekly news show for the school. He’s also the school’s athletic director, basketball and track coach and student council sponsor.
Stumpenhorst also is credited with pushing the district toward a new “standard-based grading” system, which is currently being implemented across the schools. Students are graded on benchmarks and goals based on “mastery” of the task. The system also requires teachers to grade based on achievement, not behavior.
A panel of administrators, teachers and school board members interviewed the finalists for the award given by the Illinois State Board of Education each year.
The award comes with some perks and duties. Stumpenhorst will represent Illinois at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and he’ll get a lifetime tuition waiver to state universities.
Stumpenhorst earned his master’s in curriculum and instruction at North Central College in Naperville. He’s been named to the Emerging Leaders Class of 2011 by the International Society of Technology Educators.
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