A science teacher who recently earned National Board Certification and launched an outreach program to excite grade school children about science has been named Teacher of the Year by her peers at Lincoln-Way North High School.
Maria Wilson, who initiated the Future Phoenix Science Family Night at North earlier this year and invited grade school students to learn about tornadoes, native animals and the physics of toys, was honored by her colleagues at a brief ceremony held after school on May 24.
“When our school district talks about providing experiences and opportunities for our students’ growth, I cannot think of a teacher that I have EVER known who has done more towards these goals,” said science teacher and department chair Joe Skarbek who nominated Wilson for the honor.
“Maria is a phenomenal teacher in the classroom,” he added. “She is also a wonderful mentor and model for our kids outside of the school day.”
Every year, Lincoln-Way North administrators invite teachers to nominate a colleague who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help students succeed.
This year, teachers nominated seven individuals at Lincoln-Way North.
Wilson was picked for her innovative teaching methods, collaboration with the school’s special education department and being a mentor to other teachers.
“Maria exhibits the qualities of an excellent teacher,” stated Dr. Michael Gardner, principal. “She shares with her peers and is an excellent collaborative teacher. She gets the most out of students by making connections with them, both academically and professionally. She has represented the school well at the state and national level and is a Nationally Board Certified teacher.”
Wilson, who teaches Earth Science, Physical Science and Chemistry Fundamentals at Lincoln-Way North, was the first District 210 science teacher to earn National Board Certification, an advanced teaching credential that is achieved through a rigorous, performance-based assessment of a teacher’s pedagogical skills and content knowledge.
The certification takes one to three years to complete and is valid for 10 years. It is the highest credential available to American educators.
At Lincoln-Way North, Wilson is credited with designing a “crash course” for students preparing to take the PSAE exam, helping them review the systems that function to make the natural world exist.
She also is credited with starting the idea of “Random Science Monday,” getting students excited about the scientific phenomena around them.
“Maria is a science nerd,” said Skarbek, “which I mean in the best way. She conveys to our kids that it is OK to get excited about science.”
As Teacher of the Year, Wilson will have her photo permanently displayed in a hallway near the main office at Lincoln-Way North.
She joins an impressive list of Teachers of the Year, including social science teacher Marcia Steward (2009), science teacher Peggy Piper (2010) and world languages teacher Linda Egnatz (2011).