Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs


News Release

Contact: Christine Rienstra Kiracofe, NIU College of Education
(815) 753-3404

March 22, 2006

NIU College of Education department honors
four educators with scholarships, awards

DeKalb — Four suburban educators who are graduate students or alumni of the Northern Illinois University College of Education, have been honored with awards and scholarships.

Three of the teachers awarded scholarships – Mike Harder and Abbie Miller, who both won the Collins scholarship, and Steven Koch, who won the Crowell scholarship – are pursuing advanced degrees in NIU's Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations.

Charles McCormick, superintendent of Kaneland Community Unit School District 302, is the Keith Getschman Alumni Award winner. McCormick earned his master's and doctoral degrees in the NIU College of Education.

The quartet was lauded at a March 9 ceremony at NIU-Naperville. Gerald W. Bracey, of the Educational Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University, gave the keynote address.

The Harold “Rip” Collins scholarship, established in 1988 to honor a man who was “a teacher's teacher, an administrator's mentor and a superintendent's confidante,” awards $400 to each winner.

Harder, who is seeking his Type 75 administrative certification in the M.Ed. program, is a fourth-grade teacher at Gavin Central Elementary School in Ingleside.

Teaching is a second career for Harder, who was employed for 20 years as a machinist before returning for his bachelor's degree in elementary education, which he earned at Trinity International University in Deerfield. He is in his fourth year of teaching, and is a member of the school leadership team at Gavin Elementary.

“I have seen first-hand the commitment and dedication he brings to the profession,” said Miriam Cutler, his principal. “Mr. Harder went into teaching as a second career. He found his 'calling,' as he likes to tell it, and I agree.”

Miller, also a M.Ed. student in Educational Administration working toward her Type 75 administrative certification, is an elementary teacher at Saint John the Baptist Catholic School in Johnsburg. She is in her eighth year of teaching in the Catholic schools of the Rockford Diocese in several different schools.

She also spent nine months as the lead program teacher at the Challenger Learning Center in Woodstock , and spent many years running a preschool as she raised her own children. “It is encouraging to see a candidate for educational administration such as Mrs. Abbie Miller,” Principal Pamela Dvonch wrote. “Her desire and drive to attain this degree should be kept alive.”

The Crowell Education Scholarship, established in 1997 by College of Education alumni Thomas R. Crowell Jr. and Judith F. Crowell, awards $400.

Koch, a doctoral student in Educational Administration pursuing his superintendent's endorsement, oversees 16 people as the English department chair at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake. Before pursuing his doctorate, he earned his Ed.S. at NIU.

“Steve has exemplified all that any school district would want in an excellent teacher,” Principal Paul Humpa wrote. “He has an excellent rapport with his students … a genuine love for his subject matter, and conveys such devotion with a sincere interest toward his students. I have been extremely impressed with his leadership abilities and intuition with respect to seeking positive solutions to complex problems. He has a wonderfully bright future as a leader in District 155.”

The Keith Getschman Alumni Award is given annually to an alumnus of NIU's Educational Administration program who has made substantial and noteworthy contributions to the field of educational administration.

McCormick earned both his M.Ed. and Ed.D. degrees from NIU, and has led Kaneland since 1998. He previously served as an associate superintendent for business in both Kaneland and DeKalb School District 428.

He has been honored for his professional accomplishments both by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Association for School Business Officials. In addition to his expertise as a practitioner, McCormick also is an accomplished scholar in his own right, having authored more than 10 book chapters and articles in the areas of educational administration and school business management.

McCormick has served as a board of education member, vice-chair of the Superintendent Advisory Council for the Valley Education to Employment System, member of the Superintendent Council for the Suburban Prairie Conference, member of the governing board of the Mid Valley Special Education Cooperative and executive director of the Kaneland Foundation. He also has given generously of his time to NIU, having served a member of the Alumni Advisory Council for the College of Education.

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