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WIU Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction Second Annual Open House Sept. 10; 2015 IL Teacher of Year Is Guest Speaker

August 31, 2015

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MACOMB, IL — The 2015 Illinois Teacher of the Year will be the guest speaker at the Western Illinois University Department of Curriculum and Instruction's second annual open house next week.

The open house, scheduled from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10 in Horrabin Hall, room 1, will include Steve Elza, whose educational accomplishments were honored by the Illinois State Board of Education with the Teacher of the Year Award last fall. Elza is an automotive technology teacher at William Fremd High School in Palatine (IL), and he will be speaking at the open house.

"Steve is an important role model both for his students, colleagues and for those individuals thinking about a career as a teacher," said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. "His pathway into teaching, including his experience in being mentored, is an important story for others to hear about as the field of teaching experiences decreased enrollments. As a career technical educator, he also will be able to provide much-needed insights into the preparation of students for high-paying and rewarding careers."

According to an ISBE press release about Elza's award, Elza wasn't interested in school until he was in high school.

"[It was] the end of his sophomore year [when] an opportunity arose that would change his life—he was offered the chance to attend the Technology Center of DuPage (TCD) to specialize in automotive technology. The program director, Jim Krudl, became his mentor and lifelong friend. He inspired, encouraged and supported Steve as the future began to take shape. College hadn't been a part of Steve's plan until Krudl asked him to visit [a university]. Steve obliged and, in his words, 'fell in love.' He was the first person in his family to attend college and graduate. The idea of teaching wasn't on his radar until Krudl again intervened and told him about an opening at the Technology Center of DuPage, where Steve had studied in high school. Steve quickly discovered teaching was his dream job. Steve builds relationships with his students just as his mentor, Krudl, did with students at TCD. He's known for his extraordinary efforts to support each student in his classroom," the release states.

After Elza's speech, attendees may participate in a tour of WIU's newly remodeled, state-of-the-art Interactive Multimedia Lab (IMM Lab) in Horrabin Hall.

"The recently updated lab includes café style seating with charging stations and WiFi, a green-screen video capture room, Mac and PC computers with all of the latest popular software suites and meeting areas for students, faculty and staff. The IMM Lab is available for community members to use as well, and offers free software and technology workshops throughout the year," said Sara Simonson, curriculum and instruction professor.

In addition, other program representatives who will be there for attendees to speak with include Sherri Moon, director of the WIU Infant/Preschool Center; Barry Witten, professor, curriculum and instruction graduate program; and Debbie Danner, Technology Competency Assessment (TCA) and English Language Learner (ELL) Assessment programs.

"We will also offer a tour of the WIU/Infant Preschool, so visitors can see the vast improvements we have made recently, as well as view the blueprints for the playground. We are excited to have Mr. Elza speak and are looking forward to showing off our new IMM Lab and our Infant/Preschool Center," Simonson added.

The open house is open free to the public, and refreshments will be provided. Free parking will be available in the faculty and staff lot south of Horrabin Hall.

For more information, contact Michele Mussatto at (309) 298-1961 or via email at

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