DWIGHT — An English teacher at Dwight Township High School has been named 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Lindsey Jensen was honored at the Those Who Excel banquet Saturday night, hosted by the Illinois State Board of Education at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in uptown Normal.

“Lindsey Jensen exemplifies teacher leadership,” State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith said in a statement. "Students leave her classroom with an expanded understanding of their own potential. We are privileged to have this extraordinary educator represent the state as our 2018 Illinois Teacher of the year.”

Jensen was one of 10 Illinois teachers in the running for the award.

Jensen has been at Dwight Township High School for 10 years, where she teaches Advanced Placement English, Shakespeare, American literature, drama and composition for juniors and seniors.

She also supervises student teachers, coaches colleagues and volunteers as advisor for clubs and activities.

Jensen was nominated by Dwight Police Chief Tim Henson whose children were taught by Jensen. He's also partnered with Jensen during local Special Olympics events.

“I believe education equals empowerment,” said Jensen. “Teachers are in the business of human beings and teaching requires becoming part of students’ lives and making connections that no other professional experiences.”

Fellow Dwight teacher, Erik Borne said Jensen is more than a teacher of English, “she is a teacher of people.”

“She inspires her students to want to be their best, and as someone who has been teaching almost 20 years, I can honestly say that I have had no colleague inspire me more than she,” said Borne.

Several Pantagraph-area teachers have been finalists in recent years, but a local teacher has not earned the top educator title since 2000 when it was awarded to Metamora Grade School teacher, Jo Crow. Cathy Bissoondial of Glenn Elementary School in Normal was named Teacher of the Year in 1998.

As Illinois Teacher of the Year, Jensen will be available to speak at teaching workshops, education conferences and community meetings. She also will represent Illinois at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with Voya Financial.

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer

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