D211 Post: Hoffman Estates Chemistry Teacher Named State Finalist for National Teaching Award

When Hoffman Estates High School Chemistry teacher Tanya Katovich was told she had been nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, it started her on a five-month application processes.  The hard work and preparation  led to her being named as one of five state finalists for the nation’s highest honor for mathematics and science teachers.  The announcement was made during a ceremony at Fermi Lab Nov. 3.

            “To be nominated for the award is a huge honor,” she said. “It was overwhelming, because once you read through what they want, you realize this is not something you are going to finish in a week.”

            Katovich said following her nomination, she had to prepare a lengthy submission about her background and approach to teaching science.  One thing she had to include was a 45-minute recording of her teaching.

            “By the time I started brainstorming on what unit I was going to focus on and what lesson I was going to have them video tape, that took several months,” said Katovich.

            An additional part of the submission was a series of questions which focused on research style and methodology.

            “There is a lot of research that goes into [the question],” she said.  “Not just talk about your philosophy as a teacher, but what research is your instruction based on.”

            Katovich described her philosophy focusing on backward design.  In this structure, she first focuses on what the student should learn by the end of the lesson, then developing the steps to reach that objective.

            Katovich has a unique tie to the award as well.  A 1990 graduate of William Fremd High School, she studied physics under District 211’s first recipient of the award, Robert Grimm.

            Her approach to teaching chemistry involves her students being active participants in the scientific process.  She said has been a long-time proponent for national standards which were adopted by Illinois in 2016.  Katovich began implementing many of the elements of the standards into her classroom in 2013.  She credits a very supportive department for helping her develop her teaching style.

            “Amazing things have happened to me since I arrived at Hoffman Estates High School,” she said.  “I attribute that to leaders who believe in what we’re doing.  I have support from my colleagues who are wonderful to work with.”

            With her acceptance as a state finalist, her packet has been forwarded to a national panel which could take up to 2 years to decide.  She said her competition is fierce.

            “They’re very good,” she said.  “I know at least two of them and they have done phenomenal things for Illinois.”

            National finalists are invited to a White House dinner in their honor where they will meet with the president.  They also receive a $10,000 prize.  For Katovich the biggest benefit of the award is something much more professional.

            “I’ve been told, at that ceremony you get to meet educators who are very motivated just like yourself,” she said.  “It creates a network of professionals who are really motivated to change education and want the best for students.”




Tickets Available for the Hoffman Estates Loyal Parents (H.E.L.P.) 6th Annual Trivia/Game Night

Last year's trivia event.

Last year’s trivia event.

Tickets are now on sale for a night full of trivia that will benefit Hoffman Estates High School students.

The Hoffman Estates Loyal Parents (H.E.L.P.) will host its 6th Annual Trivia/Game Night from 6 to 11 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the Sears Corporate Center in Hoffman Estates.  All proceeds will benefit curricular and extra-curricular student activities at Hoffman Estates High School.

Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a silent auction.

Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a live and silent auction.

This is an adult-only trivia competition where teams of eight will compete against each other by testing their knowledge in various topics including food and beverages, history, music, sports, movies, and famous people.  Teams are encouraged to come up with creative themes to compete for the best table of the event. The evening will also feature live and silent auctions (provided by HEHS sports teams and clubs), table games, and other entertaining activities.

To make the evening complete, teams will “tail gate” during the event with their favorite snacks and goodies.  A cash bar will be available and it is suggested that attendees bring small bills for in-between games.

Anyone interested in attending can register online (via credit card) or pay by check using the registration form available on H.E.L.P.’s website. H.E.L.P. accepts cash, check and debit/credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, and Discover) for live and silent auction items.  There will also be free parking during the event. All checks must be received by February 14, 2014. You can also register at the door. Team captains will receive further information via email.

For more information or questions, please contact Hoffman Estates Loyal Parents (H.E.L.P.).




District 211 Students Join Local School Districts for 2013 Latino Summit

latinosummitcoverDistrict 211 students from Hoffman Estates, Palatine, and Schaumburg High Schools joined several students from area school districts for the 2013 Latino Summit. There, students had opportunities to hear from Latino professionals, explore college opportunities, and listen to a keynote speaker.

The 2013 Latino Summit was held on Nov. 22 at William Rainey Harper College and more than 400 Latino freshmen and sophomores from area Districts 211, 214, 220, 207, and 225 attended. Presentations were held in both English and Spanish.

“The Summit gives students prime examples of knowing they aren’t alone,” said Alonso Ramirez, counselor at Palatine High School. “Kids with similar challenges that participated in the Summit during high school come back as presenters while in college, and it inspires our students. We have heard several comments from our current students that they hadn’t even considered going to college before the Summit.”

The keynote speaker this year was Jazmin Beltran, a multimedia journalist, currently working as a freelance news reporter at Univision Network, and adjunct professor at Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University. Beltran, along with other Latino professionals, spoke to students about how they overcame obstacles to get where they are today and shared their experiences within different job markets and navigating the professional world. These inspirational stories, in addition to college representatives speaking with students, helped kick start freshmen and sophomores to think about their futures.  The summit helps students develop leadership skills, network, and meet peers from other schools with similar aspirations.

Each year, the Latino Summit is a self-supported event, and funds must be found to finance the event and scholarships for deserving seniors. Participating District 211 schools donate $500 each to go toward scholarships.