Educator Advisory Council

Teacher Voice in Education Policy

The best education policy is grounded in the experience and input of those on the front lines of education every day – Illinois’ teachers and principals. This is why Advance Illinois created our Educator Advisory Council (EAC) comprised of award-winning educators from across the state. The EAC gathers on a regular basis to share their vital perspective and offer feedback on how education policy is being implemented in classrooms across Illinois.

Read the EAC’s vision for a transformed teaching profession.

Annual Educator Leadership Institute

The EAC, in tandem with the state’s teachers’ unions and the Illinois State Board of Education, annually host an Educator Leadership Institute. The Institute brings together top practitioners from across the state to reflect on education initiatives and draft recommendations to the state for improving implementation.  Learn more about this year’s event.

Educator Advisory Council Members

Peggy Allan

Middle School, Greenville Jr. High, Greenville, IL

Dr. Peggy Allan is the 1989 Illinois State Teacher of the Year, a Milken Educator (1988) and was recognized by Learning Magazine with its Professional Best Award. Read More

Middle School, Greenville Jr. High, Greenville, IL

Dr. Peggy Allan is the 1989 Illinois State Teacher of the Year, a Milken Educator (1988) and was recognized by Learning Magazine with its Professional Best Award.

A dedicated teacher of English/Language, Social Studies, Gifted Grade(s): 7-8 for many years, Peggy is now working to support teachers through coaching and mentoring in multiple districts, including East St. Louis.

Peggy is active on the Board of Directors of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) organization’s effort to pilot career continuums for teachers, which has been endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. These levels (i.e., apprentice, professional, mentor, master teacher) would define teacher roles, responsibilities, and expectations based on effectiveness and skill, rather than on the number of years of teaching.  She recently co-authored NNSTOY’s white paper entitled “Re-Imagining Teaching:  Five Structures to Transform the Profession.” Peggy is a strong advocate for distributed leadership and professionalizing teaching careers.

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Annice M. Brave

English and Journalism, Alton High School, Alton, IL

Annice M. Brave, 2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year and finalist for National Teacher of the Year, is a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) and teaches English and journalism at Alton High School in Alton, Illinois.  Read More

English and Journalism, Alton High School, Alton, IL

Annice M. Brave, 2011 Illinois Teacher of the Year and finalist for National Teacher of the Year, is a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) and teaches English and journalism at Alton High School in Alton, Illinois. 

She currently serves on the Illinois State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board, the Board of Examiners for NCATE (CAEP), the Board of Directors of the Illinois Education Association/NEA, the NEA Common Core Working Group, and the Educator Leader Cadre for PARCC.

At Alton High School, she teaches dual credit courses for Lewis and Clark Community College and sponsors the school newspaper, television and radio stations, Quill & Scroll Honor Society for high school journalists, and Calliope student fine arts magazine.  Annice is a frequent speaker and presenter on education topics, and has received numerous awards for her teaching and civil rights work, including the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence and the Pearson Foundation Global Learning Fellowship.

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Cara Bucciarelli

Elementary Spanish, LaSalle II, Chicago, IL

Cara Bucciarelli teaches K-8 Spanish at LaSalle II Magnet School, where she was a founding member of the school team. She was named the Chicago Foundation for Education’s Teacher of the Year in 2012. Read More

Elementary Spanish, LaSalle II, Chicago, IL

Cara Bucciarelli teaches K-8 Spanish at LaSalle II Magnet School, where she was a founding member of the school team. She was named the Chicago Foundation for Education’s Teacher of the Year in 2012.

During her time at LaSalle II, she has focused on creating integrated curriculum units that utilize both world language and other disciplines. Cara has won grants from the Kids in Need Foundation, the Oppenheimer Family Foundation and Fund for Teachers and the Chicago Foundation for Education (CFE).

Cara earned her initial certification through the Chicago Teaching Fellows Program and is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship alumna. She has a B.A. in Spanish from Oberlin College, an M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an M.A.T. from Dominican University.

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Terri Goggin

Social Studies and History, Greenville Jr. High,
Greenville, IL

Terri teaches 6th-grade social studies and 8th-grade American History at Greenville Junior High School.  She received the Those Who Excel Education Award Program/Illinois Teacher of the Year:  Award of Merit 2009-2010.  Read More

Social Studies and History, Greenville Jr. High,
Greenville, IL

Terri teaches 6th-grade social studies and 8th-grade American History at Greenville Junior High School.  She received the Those Who Excel Education Award Program/Illinois Teacher of the Year:  Award of Merit 2009-2010. 

She is nationally board certified in Early Adolescence/Social Studies-History, is a Mentor Teacher and works with first- and second-year teachers in her district to offer assistance and guidance to allow for a smooth transition into teaching for the novice teacher.  Terri also serves on the Greenville College School of Education P-12 Advisory Council.  The Council’s role is to review Teacher Education Program elements and revisions, review the conceptual Framework, examine assessment data, and advise whether modifications need to be made in the College’s Teacher Education Program.

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Jonnia Jackson

Early Childhood, God’s Little Workshop, Chicago, IL

Jonnia Jackson is director and founder of God’s Little Workshop childcare center located in Chicago. In addition, she has designed a developmental curriculum that bridges the Montessori, Constructivist, and Traditional theoretical approaches to learning for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Read More

Early Childhood, God’s Little Workshop, Chicago, IL

Jonnia Jackson is director and founder of God’s Little Workshop childcare center located in Chicago. In addition, she has designed a developmental curriculum that bridges the Montessori, Constructivist, and Traditional theoretical approaches to learning for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Prior to this, she was the Lead Head Start teacher at National Teachers Academy and an adjunct instructor for the alternative education teaching program at University of Illinois. Jonnia also serves as the Parent Liaison and a leader of the ACOG youth drama program. Her most recent project was lead writer for the third independent short film aimed at empowering African American young girls and giving them an opportunity to see themselves represented successfully and intelligently. As a 2008 Kohl McCormick nominee, Jonnia is embarking on new endeavors to make some groundbreaking changes in Early Childhood in 2015 and beyond.

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Paul Kelly

Principal, Elk Grove H.S., Elk Grove Village, IL

Paul Kelly is currently the Principal of Elk Grove High School in Township High School District 214.  Before becoming the leader of this diverse and dynamic professional learning community, he was the Division Head of Social Science/World Languages at John Hersey High School.  Read More

Principal, Elk Grove H.S., Elk Grove Village, IL

Paul Kelly is currently the Principal of Elk Grove High School in Township High School District 214.  Before becoming the leader of this diverse and dynamic professional learning community, he was the Division Head of Social Science/World Languages at John Hersey High School. 

Paul received the Milken National Education Award as a History and Social Science teacher at Hinsdale South High School.  In addition to teaching all levels of History and Social Science courses, Paul has conducted dozens of professional development workshops for teachers and administrators in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

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Anne McKenna

Second Grade Bilingual Two-Way Immersion, Dewey Elementary, Evanston, IL

Anne recently began work on her Type 75 certification, after earning her National Board Certification in the December 2011, and continues to teach second grade in her bilingual twin immersion classroom at Dewey Elementary in Evanston.

Second Grade Bilingual Two-Way Immersion, Dewey Elementary, Evanston, IL

Anne recently began work on her Type 75 certification, after earning her National Board Certification in the December 2011, and continues to teach second grade in her bilingual twin immersion classroom at Dewey Elementary in Evanston.

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Melissa Morrissey

Special Education, Four Rivers Special Education District, Jacksonville, IL

Melissa Morrissey is an Illinois Teacher of the Year Finalist.  She recently accepted a position as a special education program supervisor at Four Rivers Special Education District in Jacksonville, IL.  Four Rivers is Read More

Special Education, Four Rivers Special Education District, Jacksonville, IL

Melissa Morrissey is an Illinois Teacher of the Year Finalist.  She recently accepted a position as a special education program supervisor at Four Rivers Special Education District in Jacksonville, IL.  Four Rivers is the third largest special education district in the state of Illinois, serving nineteen school districts in an approximately 3200 square mile area.  Melissa supervises several districts and coordinates in-services for the cooperative.  She also teaches Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) and provides other professional development.

Besides serving on the Educator Advisory Council of Advance Illinois, Melissa is also a member of the Illinois Educator Leadership Cadre of PARCC, where she was recently chose to complete a mini-communications bootcamp and was filmed for an upcoming video on teacher voice.  Melissa is a member of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, and the Illinois and National State Teacher of the Year organizations.

Recently Melissa wrote two op-ed pieces appearing in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier and the State Journal-Register, as well as an article for the “Core Connection” newsletter and a guest blog for Laying the Foundation.

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Natalie C. Neris

Director of Academic Accountability, Chicago International Charter School, Chicago, IL

Natalie is a 2008 recipient of the Golden Apple Teaching Award.  She is currently the Director of Academic Accountability for the Chicago International Charter School. Read More

Director of Academic Accountability, Chicago International Charter School, Chicago, IL

Natalie is a 2008 recipient of the Golden Apple Teaching Award.  She is currently the Director of Academic Accountability for the Chicago International Charter School.

Previously she served as Assistant Principal at Pershing West Middle school, where she had earlier worked as a teacher. Her experience includes working as an Instructional Support Leader in Chicago Public Schools Fulton Network, which includes approximately 30 elementary and/or middle schools.  Natalie is very active in Common Core literacy implementation in her schools, and in particular the use of Understanding by Design, backward mapping, to connect learning goals and assessments.

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Eliza Ramirez

8th Grade Reading, Writing, and Social Studies, Zapata Academy, Chicago, IL

Eliza Ramirez teaches 8th grade reading workshop, writing workshops, and social studies classes at CPS’s Zapata Academy where she focuses on developing units to invest Latino students in their reading and writing so they may find their voice, passion, and place in the world.  Read More

8th Grade Reading, Writing, and Social Studies, Zapata Academy, Chicago, IL

Eliza Ramirez teaches 8th grade reading workshop, writing workshops, and social studies classes at CPS’s Zapata Academy where she focuses on developing units to invest Latino students in their reading and writing so they may find their voice, passion, and place in the world. 

Eliza is also a member of her school’s Instructional Leadership Team, participates in Boundless Readers study group and book club, and co-leads a Teacher Writing Group. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago Urban Teacher Education Program and is excited to be a Clinical Instructor this year (she hopes to use what she learned hosting a student teacher from ISU to do the important work of preparing future teachers for schools of need). Last year, Eliza completed the Chicago Foundation for Education’s Action Research Leadership Institute fellowship and shared her work in this year’s CFE Workshop as well as Golden Apple’s Teachers for Tomorrow Conference. Eliza also continues to be involved with the Golden Apple Foundation after her 2011 Award, through their Selection Committee. Although Eliza just finished her Teach Plus teaching policy fellowship this December, she will continue to find ways to reflect, develop her teacher voice, and share her practice.

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Pam Reilly

Sandwich School District, Sandwich, IL

Pam teaches second grade in Sandwich District #430. She is the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year and has earned numerous other awards for being a fierce advocate for her students and her commitment to the teaching profession.  Read More

Sandwich School District, Sandwich, IL

Pam teaches second grade in Sandwich District #430. She is the 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year and has earned numerous other awards for being a fierce advocate for her students and her commitment to the teaching profession. 

Pam has presented to universities, school districts, civic groups and professional organizations on a variety of educational topics. She provides workshops on meeting the social and emotional needs of students and utilizing technology in classrooms.

She has a passion for teacher leadership and elevating the profession through distributed leadership models. Pam is a member of the Illinois P-20 Council on the Teacher and Leadership Effectiveness Committee and is assisting in Teacher Leadership research as a consultant for them. The research allows her to continue visiting schools across Illinois and learning about their teacher leadership components. She writes a monthly blog for the Illinois Educators Association on Teacher Leadership in Illinois schools and serves on their Teacher Leader and National Board Outreach Committee.

Pam is thrilled to be a part of the conversations that are happening at Advance Illinois. They provide opportunities for teachers to engage with educational leaders and policy makers in Illinois.

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Kevin Rutter

Economics, Carl Schurz High School, Chicago, IL

Kevin leads the Academy of Finance at Carl Schurz High School in Chicago. Kevin was the 2010 Illinois Teacher of the Year.  Kevin’s work with the Carl Schurz Academy of Finance is featured in this Youtube video as an exemplar of programs preparing students to be college and career ready.

Economics, Carl Schurz High School, Chicago, IL

Kevin leads the Academy of Finance at Carl Schurz High School in Chicago. Kevin was the 2010 Illinois Teacher of the Year.  Kevin’s work with the Carl Schurz Academy of Finance is featured in this Youtube video as an exemplar of programs preparing students to be college and career ready.

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Tim Schnoeker

Technical/Vocational, Coulterville High School, Coulterville, IL

Tim is in the Department of Technology Engineering Education at Coulterville High School and currently serves on the Randolph Monroe County ROE (45) Advisory Committee. He is an Illinois Teacher of the Year Finalist and a Peabody Logos Leader in Education. Read More

Technical/Vocational, Coulterville High School, Coulterville, IL

Tim is in the Department of Technology Engineering Education at Coulterville High School and currently serves on the Randolph Monroe County ROE (45) Advisory Committee. He is an Illinois Teacher of the Year Finalist and a Peabody Logos Leader in Education.

Tim once again spent the summer working with his Construction and Manufacturing Technology students to make improvements at Hoyleton Children’s Home, a residential treatment program for children and adolescents with severe developmental, emotional and/or behavioral issues.

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Michael Sementa

Science and Technology, Geneva Middle School North, Geneva, IL

Mike Sementa is a 2011 recipient of the Golden Apple for Excellence in. He is an eighth-grade science teacher at Geneva Middle School North in Geneva, IL and spends his summers as a proud facilitator and instructor for the Golden Apple Scholars Program.  Read More

Science and Technology, Geneva Middle School North, Geneva, IL

Mike Sementa is a 2011 recipient of the Golden Apple for Excellence in. He is an eighth-grade science teacher at Geneva Middle School North in Geneva, IL and spends his summers as a proud facilitator and instructor for the Golden Apple Scholars Program. 

He enjoys the opportunity to mentor future teachers while expanding on his own teaching experiences.  Mike participated in planning efforts for the 2012 Educator Leadership Institute and was an active participant in the ELI activities that were held in Bloomington, IL.  In the meantime, he continues to expand his working knowledge of STEM and how to transition real-life engineering skills and practices into the classroom environment.

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Jennifer Smith

Monticello School District, Monticello, IL

Jennifer Smith is a Finalist for 2015 Teacher of the Year who teaches eighth grade grammar and literature in a small school district in central Illinois.  Read More

Monticello School District, Monticello, IL

Jennifer Smith is a Finalist for 2015 Teacher of the Year who teaches eighth grade grammar and literature in a small school district in central Illinois.  She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Education from Eastern Illinois University.  She is currently working on a Master’s in English at Illinois State University.  Jennifer was a Finalist for 2015 Teacher of the Year.

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Rebecca Wattleworth

Math and Science, Warrensburg-Latham High School, Warrensburg, IL

Rebecca teaches math and science at Warrensburg Latham High School.  She has enjoyed the EAC experience as a place to learn about state-level reforms and work with other award-winning teachers.  In the spring of 2014, Rebecca participated in efforts to review Illinois’ Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP).  Read More

Math and Science, Warrensburg-Latham High School, Warrensburg, IL

Rebecca teaches math and science at Warrensburg Latham High School.  She has enjoyed the EAC experience as a place to learn about state-level reforms and work with other award-winning teachers.  In the spring of 2014, Rebecca participated in efforts to review Illinois’ Test of Academic Proficiency (TAP).  Teachers gathered at the Illinois State Board of Education to review and set passing standards for the test which is given to students wishing to enter Illinois schools of education. She recently attended ISBE’s elementary and middle grades advisory group meeting to discuss setting math teaching standards.

For more on the Educator Advisory Council, please contact Marlon Cummings: mcummings@advanceillinois.org

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Mary Wirth

Sparta High School, Sparta, IL

Mary Wirth is in her sixth year teaching at Sparta High School.  She teaches biology, chemistry, and physics.   Read More

Sparta High School, Sparta, IL

Mary Wirth is in her sixth year teaching at Sparta High School.  She teaches biology, chemistry, and physics.  Mary is a Finalist for 2015 Teacher of the Year.  She lives in Red Bud, Illinois with her husband, Josh, and her son, Jackson.

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