District 186 Educator Of The Year

Education Programs

Martha Jordan, first grade teacher at Graham Elementary School, has been named the Horace Mann Educator of the Year. Also, Arwah Franklin, supervisor of Community Based Programs, was named Horace Mann Administrator of the Year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Educator of the Year luncheon could not be held, so Superintendent Jennifer Gill and Horace Mann agent Katie Hageman hand delivered baskets to each of the winners and recognized both on social media.

Martha Jordan has worked for District 186 for 33 years and has taught first grade for all of those years at Graham Elementary. She is recognized for understanding her students’ strengths and struggles and pouring her heart into her classroom. In turn, her students work hard to meet her expectations. Jordan is retiring at the conclusion of this school year. Jordan receives a $1,000 cash prize. She will receive a crystal owl at a reception at a later date.

Arwah Franklin has served District 186 for 25 years in a variety of roles but currently serves as Community Based Programs Supervisor. She is noted for inspiring her staff to go the extra mile, selflessly serving all students, and advocating for all students so that they can be successful. She receives a $500 award and will receive a crystal award at a reception in the fall.

“Horace Mann is proud to sponsor District 186’s Educator of the Year program. These educators are passionate and dedicated, and are the heart of our communities,” said President and CEO Marita Zuraitis. “During this pandemic, there’s an even deeper appreciation of what educators do each and every day. We are pleased this award offers another way to say ‘thank you.’”

Educator of the Year finalists were Lisa Beebe (Jefferson Middle School), Abby Bretz (Franklin Middle School), Elizabeth Marcy (Dubois Elementary), and Nikki Rawls (Grant Middle School). Each will receive $250.

Administrator of the Year finalists were Tod Davis, principal of Franklin Middle School, and Patricia Nikson, principal of Fairview Elementary School. Each will receive $250.

The Rising Star award was given to three promising teachers who have been with the District four years or less. The Rising Stars are Meredith Anderson (Lanphier High School) Kelsea Hirsch (Matheny-Withrow), and Christine Seaver (Matheny-Withrow). They each receive $250 and will receive a crystal award at a later date.

Horace Mann has sponsored the Educator of the Year program since its inception in 1988. An independent panel of Springfield-area community and education leaders selects the Educator of the Year, Administrator of the Year, and the Rising Stars.

Previous Educator of the Year Winners

  • 2019: Christie Jones, Lincoln Magnet School
  • 2018: Lori Moore – Fairview Elementary School
  • 2017: ReChad Bradley – Southeast High School
  • 2016: Layne Zimmers – Lincoln Magnet School
  • 2015: Jeff Lightfoot – Springfield High School
  • 2014: Dee Dee Duffy – Early Learning Center
  • 2013: Maryna Mitchell – Lanphier High School
  • 2012: Melissa Beckler – Washington Middle School
  • 2011: Susan Kepp - Dubois Elementary School
  • 2010:  Teresa Holton – Southeast High School
  • 2009:  Sandra Bauer – Iles Elementary School
  • 2008:  Tamara Douglass – Southeast High School
  • 2007:  Nancy Pence – Springfield High School
  • 2006:  Sara Oehlert – Harvard Park Elementary School
  • 2005:  Tracy Buscher – Southeast High School
  • 2004:  Joseph Bunch – Springfield High School
  • 2003:  Deborah Huffman – Lanphier High School
  • 2002:  Teri Neff – Owen Marsh Elementary School
  • 2001:  Donna Jefferson – Owen Marsh Elementary School
  • 2000:  Robert Mitchell Jr. – Washington Middle School
  • 1999:  Keith Kincaid – Sandburg Elementary School
  • 1998:  Diana Roth – Lanphier High School
  • 1997:  Jim Broch – Grant Middle School
  • 1996:  Jill Grove – Jefferson Elementary School
  • 1995:  Bette Wells – Pleasant Hill Elementary School
  • 1994:  Mary C. Jackson – Springfield High School
  • 1993:  Jane Lawder – Iles Elementary School
  • 1992:  Jean Ahlberg – Lanphier High School
  • 1991:  Dennis E. Morris – Lee and Sandburg Elementary School
  • 1990:  Raymond Bruzan – Lanphier High School
  • 1989:  Melinda LaBarre – Jefferson Elementary School
  • 1988:  Sandra Carlson – Sandburg Elementary School


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© 2017 Horace Mann Educators Corporation

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