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Oregon High School Spanish teacher, "Ms. Rad," named Illinois Teacher of the Year

Oregon High School Spanish teacher Kimberly Radostits has won Illinois’ top honor for educators. Ms. “Rad,” as her students affectionately call her, is the new Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Radostits was surprised in the middle of her class on Tuesday by Illinois State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala, who gave her the award.

"Your students are witness to this," said Dr. Ayala, "and they are the most important reason why."

Radostits has been a teacher at Oregon High School since 2007. She admits the pandemic has been hard, but says it’s allowed her to grow into an even better educator.

“This year has been a challenging year across the United States," she said. "But at no point during the school year have I felt like I wanted to jump ship. And the reason is that every single kid in this school, regardless of whether or not they can be a knucklehead every once in a while, has the potential to do amazing things.”

On top of her Spanish teaching, she’s helped create the school’s award-winning freshman intervention program “Hawks Take Flight.”

“We're making sure that every single one of those kids, when they get to this building, have the best shot possible of graduating in four years," she said. "And it's not just me that's doing that work. It's happening with other teachers.”

She also works with a professional network for Spanish teachers assisting thousands of educators.

Ms. "Rad" says she can’t see herself anywhere else.