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Southwest Region Illinois teacher of year is from Collinsville

The Illinois State Board of Education has named Collinsville Community Unit School District 10 elementary music teacher Jennifer Bhooshan the 2021 Illinois Teacher of the Year for the Southwest Region.

Bhooshan (boo-shawn) teaches kindergarten through fourth-grade music at Maryville Elementary and Webster Elementary schools in Collinsville CUSD 10. She was nominated by Maryville Elementary Principal Carmen Loemker.

“Jennifer Bhooshan is an outstanding music educator, advocate for children, role model for young teachers, and supporter of the arts. She develops meaningful relationships with students and demonstrates constant enthusiasm for her profession. Her lessons include culturally diverse music and she works with teachers to provide cross-curricular lessons that incorporate movement and dance. I am thrilled Mrs. Bhooshan is being recognized for her excellent teaching,” said Loemker.

Each spring, outstanding Illinois teachers are nominated from school districts throughout the state. Nominations are disaggregated by region. The top scorers are selected as Illinois Teacher of the Year regional winners and represent their region as Teacher of the Year for the upcoming calendar year. Illinois’ official representative in the Council of Chief State School Officers National Teacher of the Year program is chosen from the regional representatives.

In her nomination letter, Principal Loemker wrote: “Mrs. Bhooshan has gone above and beyond, using Donors Choose to secure instruments that students use across grade levels throughout their time at Maryville Elementary. In addition, she is highly respected by our PTA to the extent that their major fundraiser in 2018 was dedicated to purchasing musical instruments for her classroom. I see her incorporate these instruments daily, engaging children, building confidence, exploring newly discovered talents and interests, as well as forming relationships through music and its messages.”

In addition to her work in the classroom, Bhooshan works after hours to prepare students for musical presentations for parents, facilitates student performances for peers during school, and helps organize and execute district-wide music events.

Collinsville CUSD 10 Superintendent Dr. Mark B. Skertich said, “Jennifer’s energy and passion toward ensuring all students learn is incredible for our district and students, and a perfect example of why music education is so vital.”

Julie Evans, a Maryville Elementary parent, said, “Mrs. Bhooshan is by far one of the most amazing teachers that my children have had the privilege of learning under. As parents we are so grateful to have her in their young lives. We know that she has left a lasting impact on them just by being herself and being so passionate about her craft. If Mrs. Bhooshan could be with them for the rest of their school careers, they would be the luckiest kids in the world. I can’t say enough about the love and enthusiasm she passes along to her students.

My children are better people because of her!”

Bhooshan was surprised and congratulated on her selection in a Zoom call with education leaders from throughout the state: ISBE Officer Dr. Ernesto Matias; ISBE Director of Internal Communications Megan Griffin; ISBE Illinois Teacher of the Year/Those Who Excel Coordinator Jeff Seiler; President of The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of School Mark Klaisner; Director of Communications West 40 School District Angela Mooney; Principal of Collinsville Middle School (formerly principal of Webster Elementary) Brad Snow; Maryville Elementary Principal Carmen Loemker; Collinsville CUSD 10 Superintendent Dr. Mark B. Skertich; and Madison County ROE 41 Regional Superintendent Robert Werden.

“This honor is such a privilege,” she said. “Thank you! It is my joy to teach. I love the kids and I love teaching them. They are brilliant and wonderful. They inspire me every day.”

The Illinois Teacher of the Year serves as an Ambassador for Teaching and may conduct workshops and speak to education and civic organizations. Regional Teachers of the Year are asked to serve in the same capacity within their region. Illinois Teachers of the Year are honored at the annual Teacher of the Year/Those Who Excel banquet each October in Springfield, IL, however, this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event is canceled. Plansto recognize them will be announced by ISBE.

ISBE has eight designated regions. The Southwest Region includes Calhoun, Greene, Jersey,

Macoupin, Christian, Montgomery, Effingham, Fayette, Bond, Madison, St. Clair, Monroe and Randoph counties.

Collinsville Community Unit School District 10 consists of 13 schools, serving 6,300+ students pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 in Madison and St. Clair Counties in southwestern Illinois.

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