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NLU Student Named Teacher of the Year by Illinois Education Association Stephanie Hortsman Teaches at Thornridge High School; Pursuing NLU Degree

What’s the proper response when a French teacher, and NLU student, wins the Illinois Education Association’s Bob Haisman Teacher of the Year Award?  “Toute nos felicitations,” (congratulations),  or even a simple “tres bien” (very good) will do.

Stephanie Hortsman, who is pursuing her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at National Louis University, received the award on March 30  at an annual IEA event in front of 1,200 people at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

“Stephanie Hortsman is an outstanding educator who gives her best to her students, school and school district every day,” said IEA President Cinda Klickna.

Hortsman teaches French and Theory of Knowledge for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at Thornridge High School in south suburban Dolton. She has taught regular and honors track French classes in the past and is also a trained AVID elective teacher. She originally came to NLU for the ELL (English Language Learners) endorsement, which she earned, and stayed for the master’s degree program.

“Since this is my first advanced degree, I was excited about the flexibility of NLU and the financial assistance my cohort received,” Hortsman said. “We started our cohort on location in the district in which I work before switching to online, so I had the ease of location as another motivating factor.”

In reflecting on her experience so far, Hortsman noted faculty are pushing her to innovate.

“NLU classes for Curriculum and Instruction, as well as for the ELL endorsement, are really pushing me to think about how I teach content in new ways and in ways that address the needs of all students,” she said. “They have also really challenged me to be more professionally organized and try out new strategies with my students.”

She cited NLU instructor Tom Porter, who hired her in her current job, as an excellent faculty member. Porter is director of pupil personnel services at Thornton Township High Schools District 205 and has taught at NLU since 2004.

‘He is a consummate professional whom I admire,” Hortsman said.  “Tom is the epitome of what a good administrator should be. As an NLU professor, he provided me with the most practical and pragmatic lessons. Every class felt like it could have been a day on the job and provided the most real-life experiences I could have imagined.

“He didn’t shy from the nitty-gritty nor from the toughest, most emotionally-charged topics. He really made sure we were ready for what we would experience in our careers.”

Hortsman brings a great deal to her career, so much so that the IEA awards committee noted she has already received formal recognition and a commendation as one of the top five educators in her school. She has also served as the IEA local affiliate in the school district, the Faculty Association of District 205, in several capacities. Hortsman is an active member of the Illinois Council for the Teachers of Foreign Language, American Council for the Teachers of Foreign Language, and the American Association of Teachers of French.

The IEA Teacher of the Year award is named after former IEA President Bob Haisman. The IEA is the state’s largest organization of school employees, representing more than 135,000 members.