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Proviso West Teacher Named a ‘Hero in the Classroom’

January 11, 2013 08:55 AM
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Hillside, IL...Gail Suffredin, a special education teacher at Proviso West High School, received a big surprise when she was led into the school’s Little Theatre last semester.

That was when, in front of many of her students and colleagues, she learned that she had been named as that week’s Symetra Hero in the Classroom. Sponsored in part by the Chicago Bears and Gallagher Benefit Services, she said that she was shocked to find out about the award, which honors two Chicago-area teachers each week during the NFL season.

"I was very excited, but it was almost too much for me to take," Suffredin said. "It was really overwhelming. I was proud to bring some positive notoriety to our school."

Suffredin said that she was nominated for the award by her son, Stephen, who had discovered the contest on Facebook. A special education teacher at Proviso West for 27 years, Ms. Suffredin had been the department chairperson before returning to teaching full time. As part of her curriculum, she incorporates cooking, gardening, and field trips into her class - another fine example of ingenuity in teaching by the faculty in District 209.

SuffredinGail2-smAt the ceremony, Ms. Suffredin received a plaque recognizing her achievement and a gift certificate for Office Max. Proviso West also received $1,000 from Symetra, which she proudly displayed. In addition, Ms. Suffredin, who says Mike Singletary as her favorite Chicago Bear of all time, received two tickets to the Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers game at Soldier Field. While at the game, she and her son were able to roam on the sidelines before kickoff, and later she was showcased on the JumboTron scoreboard with other nominated teachers.

The award is the latest in a line of honors that Ms. Suffredin has received. Last summer, she was named Teacher of the Year in Congressional District 7 by Representative Danny K. Davis, D-Illinois.

"Her accolades continue to come as a result of her many years of hard work," said Dr. Roudell Kirkwood, principal at Proviso West High School. "I think Ms. Suffredin is one of our outstanding teachers."

Ms. Suffredin said that the recognition and the award have helped to encourage her to continue striving for excellence in the classroom.

"It was very nice to be recognized, and it energized me even more," she said. "It did my heart so much good to see my students excited. It made me transfer that excitement from them back to them."

Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent, said Ms. Suffredin has been a teacher that District 209 can be proud to claim as one of their own.

"Ms. Suffredin has been one of those teachers who have consistently stood out for her excellence," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "I’m so proud of what she does for our students and the professional way that she represents her profession and the district."
 
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