Four Oak Lawn Community High School Staff members have been recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education for their service to the students and community of District 229.
Three OLCHS teachers received Meritorious Service Classroom Teacher Awards: music teacher Bob Haberstat, history teacher Chris Kuchyt, and English teacher Mike Olsson.
Habersat, who teaches a variety of music courses including all three levels of guitar classes, has presented at numerous professional conferences for music education and went above and beyond in designing a recording studio in the OLCHS Media Center. According to Department Chair Eric Kallenborn, Habersat “gives music students a place where they are loved, respected, and feel like fellow musicians.”
Social Studies teacher and fishing coach Kuchyt, a graduate of OLCHS, has developed thriving History of Chicago and Sociology courses. According to OLCHS Principal Dr. Jeana Lietz, “Modeling what life-long learners do and how important it is to keep educating yourself is something that Mr. Kuchyt continuously passes on to his students.”
Olsson, an English teacher and competitive speech coach, was recognized as an Early Career Educator. Olsson is also an OLCHS graduate.
“Mike's unwavering commitment to his students' success and his work for the underdog have made him an invaluable member of the school community,” said his Department Chair Jeff Vazzana.
In addition to the three classroom teachers, Ricky Ragoza, a member of the Maintenance staff, received the Meritorious Service Educational Support Personnel award.
Assistant Principal Marcus Wargin said, “Oak Lawn Community High School is extremely proud of our outstanding staff members. These staff members have gone above and beyond in the last year and are very deserving of this award. Ricky Raygoza is also our first Educational Support Personnel staff member to be recognized by the Those Who Excel program. We couldn’t be happier to see this honor bestowed upon him because his work with maintenance, student clubs, and language translation is invaluable.”
Since 1970, the Illinois State Board of Education has sponsored the Those Who Excel & Teacher of the Year program to honor educators who have made significant contributions to our state's public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools. Awards are presented in seven categories: classroom teachers, early career educators (teachers 1-4 years), school administrators, student support personnel, educational service personnel, community volunteers, and teams.
Application materials are evaluated by a selection committee composed of individuals who represent a variety of educational organizations. All awardees are honored at an annual banquet in the Spring.