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Liberal Arts and Sciences announces 11 winners of annual Exemplary Student Teacher Awards

May 13, 2013
From left: Rikki Knutti (English); Jacob Spottiswood (History); Natalie Boone (English); Christopher Robinson (History)

From left: Rikki Knutti (English); Jacob Spottiswood (History); Natalie Boone (English); Christopher Robinson (History)

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has honored 11 students with its Exemplary Student Teacher Award.

The award program recognizes the achievements of outstanding student teachers in CLAS certification programs. Student teachers who have demonstrated excellence in the many facets of the teaching profession can be nominated either by their cooperating teachers or their university supervisors.

The 2012-2013 award winners are as follows:


Natalie Boone was praised for her reflective practice, and her well planned and executed lessons during her assignment at Geneva High School. Boone regularly and effectively assessed students’ learning and adjusted lessons to meet their needs. She is also described as a problem solver who finds ways to support all students.

Rikki Knutti, who completed her student teaching assignment at Byron High School, held students to high standards of performance. The students themselves were surprised that they were able to accomplish as much as they did and attributed their success to Knutti’s confidence-building instruction.


Anna Strozza is described as a natural-born teacher who engages students in the study of world languages and cultures. She demonstrated as much as a student teacher in French at Sycamore High School. Strozza is fluent in French, Italian and Spanish, and her enthusiasm for learning languages rubbed off on students.

Cody Happ demonstrated contagious enthusiasm for the Spanish language during her teaching assignment at Sycamore High School. Her approach energized students. She worked hard to understand what it was like to be a student in her own classroom and developed into a first-rate educator.

From left: Eric Moore (Mathematical Sciences); Anna Strozza (Foreign Languages & Literatures); Jessica Hellwig (Physics); and Leah Johnson (Geology)

From left: Eric Moore (Mathematical Sciences); Anna Strozza (Foreign Languages & Literatures); Jessica Hellwig (Physics); and Leah Johnson (Geology)


Eric Moore taught in mathematics at Jacobs High School in Algonquin. His supervisors were impressed by Moore’s abilities to collaborate professionally and to execute a wide range of lessons, from honors pre-calculus to informal geometry, co-taught with a special education teacher.


Jacob Spottiswood taught world history at Oak Forest High School. He impressed supervisors with his dedication to planning thoughtful and creative lessons that ultimately paid dividends in his classroom. Differentiation of instruction characterized his teaching and demonstrated his concern for the academic well being of all his students.

Christopher Robinson was assigned to Haines Middle School in St. Charles, where he taught eighth-grade American history and language arts. In every aspect of student teaching, he exceeded the expectations of his cooperating teacher, who commended him for his willingness to collaborate, to view himself as a learner as well as a teacher, and to be compassionate toward students.


Alan Daniels taught both biology and chemistry at Byron High School, where his cooperating teachers said he demonstrated a high degree of professionalism and commitment. He worked tirelessly to ensure that he was prepared for his lessons and assessments, and students responded in kind, showing tremendous improvement over the semester.

Andrew Heimer was nominated by his cooperating teacher at DeKalb High School for his excellence in teaching chemistry. In spite of a last-minute change of cooperating teacher, Heimer went beyond expectations as he adapted to new students and new classes. He was cited for his professionalism, flexibility, thorough preparation of lessons and active involvement in the school.

Jessica Hellwig was nominated by her cooperating teacher at St. Charles North High School, who cited Hellwig’s strong performance in the teaching of physics. As an example of Jessica’s dedication, she organized a special class event on Einstein’s birthday to discuss his life and contributions to physics. It was a great success, well received by both students and school administrators.

Leah Johnson taught physical science and earth science during her student teaching tenure at Sycamore High School. Her cooperating teacher was impressed with Johnson’s knowledge of subject matter and her infectious enthusiasm. Her “a capella” performance of The Density Song is sure to be long-remembered by her students.