On Feb. 2, the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry will honor 21 outstanding Joliet area teachers with a banquet at the Jacob Henry Mansion Victorian Ballroom at 15 S. Richards St., Joliet.
Teachers will also receive gift baskets donated by chamber member businesses. The program began in 2008.
The banquet begins with a social hour at 5 p.m. The dinner and program follows at 5:45 p.m. Tickets are $35 each. Reservations are required by Jan. 30. Call the Joliet Chamber office at 815-727-5371 or visit http://shawurl.com/2ztv.
Allison Acevedo, William B Orenic Intermediate School
This is Acevedo's eighth year teaching fifth grade at William B Orenic Intermediate School in the Troy 30C school district.
Her current position is Citizenship Through Community Service, a social-emotional learning curriculum embedding community service. She has also taught science and ELA (English Language Arts).
Acevedo lives in Orland Hills with her husband, Camilo Acevedo. Her parents, Lynn and Dan, are also teachers. She has two brothers: Danny and David.
She received her bachelor's degree in elementary and middle school education from Illinois State University in 2009. Acevedo received her master's degree in school counseling from Lewis University in Romeoville in 2015.
Dawn Bates, Woodland Elementary School
Bates has been teaching first grade for the last nine years. She has been at Woodland Elementary School for the last six years. Prior to Woodland, Bates was a teacher at Fairmont School in Lockport.
She lives in Joliet. She is the oldest of three siblings. Her parents also reside in Joliet.
Bates received her master's degree in teaching in 2008 from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais. She attended Lewis University in Romeoville and earned her English as a Second Language endorsement in 2014. Bates is currently working on her national board certification with Illinois State University.
Linda Ragusa Bowers, Joliet Central High School
Linda Ragusa Bowers teaches English at Joliet Central High School. She has also taught English classes at the University of St. Francis in Joliet and Joliet Junior College.
Bowers is the sponsor of Joliet Central’s Key Club, and the sponsor of Mr. and Ms. J., students who represent District 204’s character attributes and exemplify academic excellence.
She has also served on many committees, including the school improvement team, teacher evaluation team and the strategic planning committee.
After raising four children, Bowers pursued an undergraduate degree in English and was able to graduate with her daughter, Candace Thomas.
Her family includes her four children, Candace Thomas, Emily Simon, James Matesevac Jr. and Nicholas Bowers, and husband, John Bowers. He will retire this year after teaching English for 40 years, with 36 of those years as an English professor at the University of St. Francis.
Bowers has a master’s degree in English, a master’s degree in educational leadership, a doctorate in educational leadership, and a TESOL certification.
Ernest Crim III, Joliet Central High School
Crim is a social science instructor in the STEM Academy at Joliet Central High School. He also teaches advanced placement United States history and college prep United States history. This is his fifth year at Joliet Central.
He also taught for two years in Chicago at an alternate school.
Crim has been involved with many programs at Joliet Township High Schools including: Brother-to-Brother mentoring group as a sponsor, ILT (instructional leadership team), RTI (response to intervention) leader, district improvement team, black history assembly planning committee, "How to Motivate Unmotivated Students" (presentation), boys basketball coach (assistant on the varsity team, one year) and Powder Puff coach (two years).
His wife is a math teacher at Joliet West High School and they have two daughters. His mother is currently a principal in Chicago and his father is retired.
Crim earned his bachelor's degree in history with a minor in African-American studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree in secondary education from Roosevelt University.
Megan Crocker, Pershing Elementary School
Crocker teaches fourth-grade general education in an inclusion classroom at Pershing Elementary School. In the past, she taught kindergarten, third and fifth grades at T.E Culbertson Elementary School.
She also worked for Giant Campus as a technology instructor at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.
Crocker lives in Crest Hill. Her family includes her two children, Mason and Peyton, and parents, Chris and Patricia Rouskey of Shorewood.
She received her associate’s degree in accounting from Joliet Junior College and bachelor’s degree in elementary education from University of St. Francis in Joliet.
Mary Rezk Guirguis, Joliet West High School
For 10 years Guirguis has taught English at Joliet West High School including English 4, English 4 Blended and English 3-4 Block.
Her husband, Mark, is a structural engineer in the energy sector and they have a 16-month-old daughter. They live in Woodridge.
Guirguis attended high school in Downers Grove where her parents live.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in English education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in curriculum, technology and educational reform. During that time, Guirguis also earned her technology specialist certificate.
Laura Hall, Farragut Elementary School
Hall is the K-2 PALS (ED) teacher at Farragut Elementary School. This is her 20th year in education as a special education teacher.
She has worked in all areas of the special education continuum including resource, autism, life-skills, traumatic brain injury and ED/BD/behavior. Hall has worked with therapy dogs in her classroom for more than a decade and published a book with special needs students five times.
Hall resides in New Lenox. Her family is involved in the education system as well.
She has dual master’s degrees in special education, as well as curriculum and instruction.
Anne Henschen, Forest Park Individual Education Elementary School
Henschen has been in education for the past 10 years. She began as a paraprofessional then became a substitute teacher, long-term substitute and eventually a classroom teacher.
She is currently in her second year as a third-grade teacher at Forest Park Individual Education Elementary School in Joliet District 86. Henschen has also taught first grade at Rockdale Elementary School for five years and worked as a paraprofessional for SOWIC (Southern Will County Co-op for Education).
Her parents are Anthony and Therese Marino of Joliet; her siblings are Emily and Anthony Marino. Anne and her husband of five years, Jason, live in Joliet and have two sons. They also have a dog named Mack and a cat named Tigger.
Henschen received her education from Joliet Junior College and the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri, where she earned her bachelor's in public relations with a minor in speech communication. She completed her master's in teaching – elementary education at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest,.
Nicole Horrigan, Sator Sanchez Elementary School
After graduating from the University of St. Francis in 2011, Horrigan worked for one year at the Joliet Boys & Girls Club as a 21st Century program coordinator. Nicole is currently in her fifth year at Sator Sanchez.
In her first year, she worked as a special education paraprofessional, and then she became a fourth-grade general education inclusion teacher.
Horrigan has been married almost two years to Benjamin Horrigan and they live in Morris. Nicole’s dad resides in Lockport. She has one older brother who resides in Crest Hill.
She graduated from the University of St. Francis in 2011. She completed her master’s degree through the University of Phoenix in August 2016.
Maria Landeros, A.O. Marshall School
Landeros has been a teacher for seven years. She has spent the last six years as a third-grade bilingual teacher in A.O. Marshall School.
She and her husband, Juan, live in Joliet and have four children: Lily, a freshman in college; Emily, a freshman in high school; Johanna, a third grader; and 2-year-old Juan.
Landeros earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Roosevelt University, and her master’s degree in teaching and learning from University of St. Francis in Joliet.
Chris Majack, Shorewood Elementary School
Majack has been a first-grade teacher with Shorewood Elementary for seven years. Prior to that he was a kindergarten teacher at Farragut Elementary and has also worked in various positions at Aurora University and DePaul University.
He lives in Woodridge. His family includes wife Tobey, who is a social worker, and step daughters Sydney and Bella. Chris earned his bachelor's degree in elementary education (with honors) from Lewis University in Romeoville.
Jennifer Matuszewski, Channahon Junior High School
Matuszewski lives in Channahon, where she has taught seventh- and eighth-grade math for nine years.
Her family includes her husband Allen Matuszewski and two daughters Nella and Summer. They are expecting a third addition to their family this spring.
Matuszewski earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of St. Francis in Joliet.
Mary Pat Mayo, Troy Craughwell Elementary School
Mayo has been teaching at Troy Craughwell Elementary School for the last five years as a special education teacher.
Her husband Mike is a mechanical engineer and their son Tom is a senior at Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox.
Mayo earned her bachelor's degree in English from Mundelein College in Chicago and master’s degree in special education from the University of St. Francis in Joliet.
Jennifer McGowan, William B. Orenic Intermediate School
McGowan has been teaching for nine years at William B. Orenic in Plainfield. She spent her first four years co-teaching fifth grade. For the past five years, she has worked with the Accelerated English Language Arts learners.
She and her husband live in Joliet and have daughter named Sawyer.
McGowan is an alumni of North Central College and is currently halfway through her master's program at the University of Illinois.
Stacey McIntosh, Hufford Junior High School
McIntosh has been a teacher for five years with the last four at Hufford Junior High School. She is an eighth grade special education teacher. She previously taught in Calumet Park.
She and husband Craig McIntosh rescued their dog Sophie.
McIntosh attended Illinois State University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting. She earned her master’s degree in elementary education (K-9) with an endorsement in special education at National Louis University in Chicago.
Bethany Nichols, Hufford Junior High School
Nichols is in her fourth year of teaching and currently an eighth-grade math general education teacher in an inclusion classroom at Hufford Junior High School in Joliet.
She lives in Plainfield. Her family includes her parents William and Lynn Nichols, and also their three crazy dogs: Oliver, Daisy and Ebony. She has a brother, Billy, and sister, Brittany.
Nichols studied at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in mathematics and middle school endorsements in mathematics, language arts and social science.
Courtney O’Grady, Cathedral of St. Raymond School
O'Grady is a preschool teacher and team lead for the early childhood program at the Cathedral of St. Raymond School in Joliet. She is also an adjunct teacher in the college of education at the University of St. Francis.
She began teaching while completing her master’s degree at the University of Illinois in Champaign, teaching preschool at the university’s child development laboratory and also serving as a lab instructor for university students.
Her family lives in New Lenox and includes her husband, Jeff, and two sons, Henry and James.
O'Grady earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from St. Xavier University and master’s degree in early childhood special education from the University of Illinois in Champaign. Last year she completed the English as a New Language program through the Alliance for Catholic Education at the University of Notre Dame.
Amanda Ringfelt, Joliet West High School
Ringfelt has been a high school English teacher for 11 years at Joliet West High School. She currently teaches English 2 Honors and English 2/3 Block.
She grew up in LaGrange with her parents, Jo Ann and Barry, and brother, Jeremy. She now lives in Joliet with her husband, Wesley, and their dog, Ollie.
Ringfelt earned her bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Type 73 in school counseling from Lewis University in Romeoville.
Gina Turro, Laraway Consolidated School District 70c
Turro has taught full-time for a total of nine years, at Kankakee High School, Plainfield Central High School and currently for elementary special education students at Laraway Consolidated School District 70C.
She has also been a dedicated coach for elementary through college athletes throughout her career.
Turro is married and lives in Joliet with a variety of family pets.
She obtained her bachelor’s degree in education in 2007 from the University of St. Francis in Joliet and is currently enrolled in the master’s degree program.
Sarah Wells, Troy Hofer Elementary School
Wells is in her first year as a fourth-grade teacher at Troy Hofer Elementary School in Shorewood, where she previously taught the accelerated third/fourth-grade multi-age class since 2009.
She began her teaching career 13 years ago as a fifth-grade teacher in Westmont.
Wells and her husband live in Plainfield and have two sons Dyson and Deyton. They enjoy being outdoors: camping and boating.
She earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Concordia University in River Forest. Concordia University is also where she earned her master of education degree in curriculum and instruction in 2010.