Teacher of the Month

2013-2014 Academic Year Winners

Below are the winners from the 2013-2014 academic year for Teacher of the Month. To view the videos of the winners visit the SXU and WGN-TV's Teacher of the Month playlist on our YouTube channel.

September 2013, Mary Mondt

Congratulations to Mary Mondt of Chicago's John F. Kennedy High School for being September's Teacher of the Month. As a teacher of geometry and special education classes, she always works to connect with her students and hopes that "there is one thing that they are going to remember." One student described Mondt as "a star in the night and a sun on a cloudy day."

October 2013, Lori Haskett

Congratulations to Lori Haskett of Orland Junior High for being October's Teacher of the Month. Ms. Haskett takes a unique, individualized approach to achieving her student's fitness goals. One student says she "feels energized and ready to learn" after Ms. Haskett's class.

November 2013, Melissa Beaudry

Congratulations to Melissa Beaudry of Chicago's Skinner West Elementary School for being November's Teacher of the Month. Beaudry encourages her students to become well-rounded individuals as well as learners and rewards her students for being careful observers and kind to one another with her signature "hoot loot." "It's not just about being smart. It's about being a well-rounded person and learning to be good on the inside," says Beaudry.

December 2013, Mike Stracco

Congratulations to Mike Stracco, who teaches English at Benet Academy in Lisle, for being December's Teacher of the Month. Stracco is known by his students as encouraging and understanding. He trades roles with his students, giving them the opportunity to be heard while asking engaging questions and "getting them to think about what the answers could be." On receiving the award, Stracco said, "Teachers everywhere work hard. I think I'm just a teacher of the vast number of teachers who are working very hard every day. I appreciate just the recognition for the profession."

January 2014, Nicholas LoGalbo

Congratulations to Nicholas LoGalbo, an English literature teacher at Chicago's Lane Tech High School, for being January's Teacher of the Month. He tells his students to "live your life with a giving heart, serving, defining your purpose and your passion and helping the world." His philosophy is to leave his students being better people than when they came in by modeling the right kind of behavior, giving them ideas, and getting them to think about the big picture and what they want to do. LoGalbo knows his purpose and passion in life is teaching and is "loving every minute of it."

February 2014, Eric Hendricks

Congratulations to Eric Hendricks, a Math teacher at Providence St. Mel School in Chicago, who is February's Teacher of the Month. Mr. Hendricks encourages his students to dominate each day. He stresses that they should never lose sight of their bottom line and their goals to help them succeed in college and life in general. Hendricks says, "In life, you have a lot to do and not that much time to do it" and encourages his students to map out a plan, get down to business and get it done.

March 2014, Kathie Howe

Congratulations to Kathie Howe, who teaches language arts at Lukancic Middle School in Romeoville and is March's Teacher of the Month. Howe engages students by rewarding them with an entertaining learning experience as she bellows out tons of ideas that keep her students motivated. Howe wants students to learn to love books and learn to love to laugh. She clarifies by saying, "If I reduce teaching to nothing but nouns and verbs and adjectives, and don't give 'students' real-world application, how are they going to fall in love with the written word?"

April 2014, Candace Coleman-Blackshire

Congratulations to Candace Coleman-Blackshire, an eighth grade teacher at Foster Park Magnet Cluster School in the Chatham neighborhood in the south side of Chicago, for being April's Teacher of the Month.

Coleman-Blackshire insists that her students can do anything if they just try. Her encouragement and hard work in helping her students resolve their academic and personal conflicts has helped them realize that their goals are attainable as long as they put forth the effort and do their best. Because she recognizes the importance of parent involvement in preparing her students for high school, Coleman-Blackshire hosts eighth grade parent meetings as often as possible to make sure they stay informed of their children's progress and achievement. She says, "I try to constantly get better, grow stronger for them and get them to get better and grow stronger for themselves."

May 2014, Deborah Brody

Congratulations to Deborah Brody, the eighth-grade language arts teacher at Lincoln Junior High in north suburban Skokie, who is May's Teacher of the Month.

Brody has been teaching for over three decades and she says she still loves teaching and she loves this age. "Eight-grade is really fun -- to prepare the kids for high school and their futures and to really start thinking like adults." Brody makes sure her students understand what is being taught and makes a personal connection with her students by incorporating a sense of humor and a lot of warmth.

June 2014, Lissete Plaza

Congratulations to Lissete Plaza, a history and language arts teacher at Boone Elementary School in Chicago, for being June's Teacher of the Month.

Plaza is always trying to find new ways to help her students. She pushes them to do their best both in the classroom and out. She introduced her female students to Girls on the Run, which is an extra-curricular fitness activity that meets three times a week, with the purpose of keeping them active and moving forward, away from any negative things that may be in their lives. "It has been a great program for the girls," says Plaza. "I feel very lucky to be able to be part of it, to be able to share this with the young girls here." Alongside this fitness initiative, the school also has a boy's basketball team and a girl's basketball team thanks to Plaza.