Fairview Elementary’s Carmelita Foster named 2021 Educator of the Year

Lee School’s Nathan Kochanowski named 2021 Administrator of the Year

Wednesday, May 7, 2021


Carmelita Foster, fifth grade teacher at Fairview Elementary School, has been named the Horace Mann Educator of the Year. Also, Nathan Kochanowski, principal of Lee School, was named Horace Mann Administrator of the Year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Educator of the Year luncheon could not be held, so Superintendent Jennifer Gill and Horace Mann agent Katie Hageman hand delivered baskets to each of the winners.

Carmelita Foster has worked for District 186 for eight years. She receives a $1,400 cash prize and a crystal owl.

Nathan Kochanowski has served District 186 since 2008. He receives $500 and a crystal award.

“It is our honor at Horace Mann to recognize Springfield’s top educators for the 34th year,” said Horace Mann President and CEO Marita Zuraitis. “Since COVID-19 began, educators have had to pivot quickly, from teaching in different environments to finding new ways to reach their students. Horace Mann’s appreciation for what educators do continues to grow every day.”

Educator of the Year finalists were Rachel Barnard (Ridgely Elementary), Kathy Gehrig, (Community Based Programs), Kathy Hanken (Matheny-Withrow Elementary) and Ayesha Lawson (Hazel Dell Elementary). Each will receive $250.

Administrator of the Year finalists were Wendy Conaway (Marsh Elementary) and Queen Drake (Project SCOPE). Each will receive $250.

The Rising Star award was given to three promising teachers who have been with the District four years or less. The Rising Stars are Nicki Krummrich (Springfield High School), Sarah Redpath (Butler Elementary) and Brandy Scott (Washington Middle School). They each receive $250 and a crystal award.

Horace Mann has sponsored the Educator of the Year program since its inception in 1988. An independent panel of Springfield-area community and education leaders selects the Educator of the Year, Administrator of the Year, and the Rising Stars.

Horace Mann — the largest national multiline insurance company focusing on educators’ financial needs — provides auto and homeowners insurance, retirement annuities, life insurance and other financial solutions. Founded by educators for educators® in 1945, the company is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois. For more information visit www.horacemann.com.

For more information about District 186, visit www.sps186.org.

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