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SPECIAL RECOGNITION: District 2 teacher honored in the 2023 ISBE Those Who Excel awards program

Carla Vazquez, a dual language first-grade teacher at W.A. Johnson School, received “Special Recognition” in the Illinois State Board of Education’s “Those Who Excel”” awards program on February 3.

Mrs. Vazquez began her teaching career at Johnson 10 years ago, working as a bilingual first-grade teacher until this year, when her class transitioned into the District’s new dual-language program.  

After a surprise in-class award presentation, and a congratulatory class hug, school and District administrators shared their thoughts on why Mrs. Vazquez is so deserving of this honor.

"I couldn't be more proud of Carla and the work that she does," said Dr. Katie McCluskey, Superintendent of Schools. "She brings 110 percent every day to her classroom and her students. I am always energized after visiting her classroom. The engagement and passion for learning in her classroom is contagious and exciting!"

“Carla teaches with her whole heart,” said Johnson Principal Carlos Patiño. “She is 100 percent invested in every single student in her classroom. Not only is her instruction of the highest level, but her connection to the students and their families is also second to none. Carla is an asset to our BSD2 community!”

Edgar Palacios, Director of Multilingual Programs and English Learners, echoed Mr. Patiño’s sentiments.

“In addition, she has helped build a dual language program that brings about cultural and linguistic changes to our BSD2 community,” said Mr. Palacios. “She embodies the spirit of our motto, ‘Learning and Growing Together.’”

Mrs. Vazquez was nominated for this award by a group of dual language parents at Johnson. Many of those parents attended the District's celebration of her award at the February 15 Board of Education meeting.

Maria DeJesus, whose son had Mrs. Vazquez as a teacher, was one of those parents. She shared with the Board how much the parents valued Mrs. Vazquez's kind, loving nature, especially throughout COVID, when her presence and patience during remote and hybrid learning were critical for their children. Mrs. Vazquez makes her students and their families feel safe and at home, said Mrs. DeJesus, and her ability to foster those vital home-school relationships is key to her success.