March 17, 2021
A teacher with the RPC’s Early Childhood Education program has been named the 2021 Teacher of the Year by the Illinois Head Start Association (IHSA). Jennifer Feeney, a Pre-K teacher at the RPC’s Early Childhood Education Center in Urbana, accepted the award in March during the IHSA’s Virtual Annual Conference, becoming the first member of the program to ever be honored as Teacher of the Year.
The Teacher of the Year Award recognizes all individuals involved in the education components of a Head Start/Early Head Start program, which the RPC administers in Champaign County. The successful candidate was required to be a current employee of a Head Start/Early Head Start program in Illinois serving as a classroom lead teacher, associate teacher, home visitor, or instructional mentor. The successful candidate also had to have been in this role for five or more years. Feeney has been with the RPC for 14 years.
“Jennifer’s hard work has not gone unnoticed,” says Lauri Morrison-Frichtl, the IHSA’s Executive Director. “I, for one, have enjoyed watching her videos on Facebook and am amazed at how creative she is. On behalf of the IHSA Board of Directors, we offer our congratulations.” At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RPC set up a Facebook group to help teachers, staff, and families with children in the Early Childhood Education program continue interacting.
“I have known Jennifer for 14 years and her dedication to supporting and educating children is inspiring,” comments Early Childhood Education Director Brandi Granse. “She cares for every child and wants the best future for them. Jennifer takes her role as a teacher very seriously and performs her best every day. Throughout the pandemic, she even learned a new way to reach her students by creating videos of lessons, taking virtual field trips to various locations, reading stories, and singing songs as if the children were in front of her. Jennifer is very deserving of this award and I am happy she has been recognized.”
As the Teacher of the Year Award winner, Feeney received a scholarship to attend the 2021 Illinois Head Start Association Virtual Annual Conference, as well as a $100 check. She was nominated for the award by Tammy Helm, site manager at the RPC’s Early Childhood Education Center in Urbana.