Kindergarten teacher among Gurnee Teachers of the Year finalists

Woodland Primary School educator honored by village at May 6 board meeting

Superintendent Robert Machak and Carrie Monterroso, Woodland Primary School kindergarten teacher Carrie Monterroso has been named one of the Village of Gurnee Teachers of the Year for 2024.

GURNEE – Woodland Primary School kindergarten teacher Carrie Monterroso has been named one of the village of Gurnee Teachers of the Year for 2024.

Monterroso, along with the winning teachers from Warren Township High School District 121 and Gurnee District 56, was recognized at the Village Board meeting May 6 with an official plaque and a grant for $1,000 from the Henderson Foundation.

Monterroso is a kindergarten teacher in the dual language program at Primary and has been part of the Woodland community since 2012. She is in her 18th year of teaching and previously worked in Chicago Public Schools.

Monterroso holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Illinois State University and a master’s degree in literacy education from Northern Illinois University.

“It is an honor to be selected as Woodland’s Teacher of the Year,” Monterroso said in a news release. “I work with wonderful people who inspire me to continue to learn in order to reach my full potential as a teacher and an equity leader. I feel that making connections with students and our efforts to build a sense of community helps our students to become the best version of themselves. We all work together to set our students up for success. Students will always have my heart.”

Woodland opened the Teacher of the Year nomination period in January. Staff, students, families and community members were invited to submit nominations for teachers and certified staff who go above and beyond to support Woodland’s learning community and who embrace the #LifeintheW spirit.

Woodland received 246 nominations in a matter of a few weeks.

Monterroso was selected as Woodland’s Teacher of the Year for her many strengths in supporting students and families, as well as for her work beyond the classroom to keep the district moving forward.

Monterroso is a caring and compassionate teacher and an excellent resource for her colleagues in the dual language program, according to the release. She is a leader in her school and in the district through her role as an Equity Leader. She is a powerful advocate for students and is passionate about educating staff on diversity and inclusion issues. She is always working to improve the climate and culture of the school district.

“Carrie’s gift is her ability to create a nurturing environment for her students where everyone feels welcome. In her classroom, students are encouraged to learn with curiosity, creativity and play,” Woodland Primary Principal Stacey Anderson said in the release. “She contributes significantly to our Primary School environment by serving as our Equity Team Leader and a valued member of our dual language team. Her dedication and commitment to finding materials and resources that reflect our students and their families is commendable.”

Monterroso was presented with the Teacher of the Year title at a staff meeting and was surprised when the superintendent and principal walked in with balloons and flowers. Her colleagues created a surprise tribute video that was played during the celebration.

“I am so proud of Carrie for her dedication to her students and colleagues and for the incredible work she does in support of the district,” Woodland District 50 Superintendent Robert Machak said in the release. “Besides being an excellent teacher, Carrie is a caretaker, a leader, an advocate and a friend. Woodland is a school district full of excellent, caring teachers at each school. I can’t think of a person more qualified or deserving than Carrie to embody all of the wonderful qualities our teachers bring with them to Woodland classrooms every day.”

Woodland selects a school winner from each of the four schools in the district. From the list of finalists, an overall winner is selected for recognition as the village of Gurnee’s Teacher of the Year.

This year’s four finalists:

• Carrie Monterroso, Woodland Primary

• Amber Dennis, Woodland Elementary

• Erica Veronie, Woodland Intermediate

• Richard Haines, Woodland Middle School

Monterroso and the other district finalists will be recognized by the Woodland school board at the May 23 meeting.

Gurnee started the Teacher of the Year program in 2014.

Shaw Local News Network

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