An Incredible Night Appreciating Teachers Across Illinois

On Friday, May 10th… it was an incredible night!

The We Appreciate Teachers Contest is our annual initiative that shines a spotlight on the incredible efforts of teachers in Illinois, highlighting their creativity and impact on their students.

The winning teachers were celebrated at a champagne reception at the Dank Haus German Cultural Center on the North side of Chicago. ​ Each of the winning teachers received 30 Back 2 School kits for their classroom as well as a gift basket filled with an array of gifts including wine, gourmet chocolates, coffee, gift cards, and much more. As a special part of the evening's festivities, each teacher was introduced with an explanation of why they were chosen as a standout educator.

Teachers play a crucial role in shaping the future of our communities, and Back 2 School America is proud to recognize them for their hard work and dedication! This event was a real testament to the hard work and value teachers represent in our society.

- Bernadette Shanahan-Haas, Executive Director, Back 2 School America

One unexpected highlight was a teacher who brought a dozen newborn chicks to the event as they had just hatched in her classroom (and she couldn’t leave them in school over the weekend)! Guests fawned over the cute newborn baby chickens and added yet another happy element to the very special evening. ​

Thank You Xfinity ​ for Sponsoring the Reception!

Let's congratulate these twenty-five deserving teachers, each of whom will receive 30 school supply kits for their classroom.

These teachers go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of their students, and we are thrilled to show our appreciation for all that they do. Thank you to all the teachers who inspire, motivate, and empower our future leaders!

Teacher Classroom Kit

At the event, it was also announced that Back 2 School America was launching yet another program to benefit teachers. ​ This new program is a Teacher Classroom Kit, each kit contains over 375 supplies. This is all part of our goal to help recognize that getting and retaining good teachers is vital to the academic success of our future generations, particularly those who grow up under more challenging circumstances.

2024 Illinois Winning Teachers

  1. Kristina Talia, Elsie C. Johnson Elementary School
  2. Micheal Olsson, Oak Lawn Community High School
  3. Zach Oleksiak, Plano Middle School
  4. Nicole Kulbartz, PH Miller School
  5. Gabriella Soto, George Washington Elementary School
  6. Jermaine Durning, Dwight D Eisenhower High School
  7. Tequila Johnson, Horace Mann Elementary School
  8. Laura Singer, Northbrook School District #27
  9. Colleen Dewitt, Washington Elementary School
  10. Tiana Ashley, CICS Wrightwood
  11. Yoonshil Shapiro, Catalyst Circle Rock
  12. Jill Decker-Doorn, Liberty School
  13. Ta'Aqua Servick, Roosevelt Middle School
  14. Mary Kate Montroy, Irving Elementary School, Oak Park District 97
  15. Shehara Brinson, Irving Elementary School, Oak Park District 97
  16. Teresa V. Bradley, Echo joint agreement
  17. Kelli Davis, Flossmoor Hills Elementary
  18. Danny Gray, Thornwood High School
  19. Robert Markus, Proviso Math and Science Academy
  20. Erin West, Our Lady of Guadalupe School
  21. Devondra Barrett, Powell Academy
  22. Theresa Rompala, Elwood CCSD 203
  23. Rachael Thea Roessler, Yorkville High School
  24. Karla Noriega, Octavio Paz
  25. Alejandra Carmona, Our Lady of Guadalupe School

About Back 2 School America

The Back 2 School program was launched in 2007 to address the pressing needs of communities and the inequities in educational opportunities for children. 

In 2015 the nonprofit changed its name to Back 2 School Illinois (B2SI) to reflect the work of the organization. In the summer of 2018, B2SI expanded and launched Back 2 School America, to provide Back 2 School kits to children across the USA. 

Today, B2SA continues to provide children of low-income households with free school supplies to help level the playing field and lessen the financial burden on their families and their teachers. The Back 2 School program has provided more than 350,000 children with their own school supply kit. The organization’s long-term goal is to make sure that all children in the USA are provided with the school supplies they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.


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