Teacher & Employee of the Year
Elementary Teacher of the Year - Andrea Choate
Andrea Choate is a kindergarten teacher at Solon Robinson Elementary with 18 years of service. Six of those years are with CPCSC. She has a Bachelor of Education degree from Purdue University and a Master of Education degree from Indiana Wesleyan.
“Andrea's love and dedication to her students and the professionalism of teaching is exemplified each and every day,” said Barb Merrill, principal of Solon Elementary. “Visiting her classroom is an unforgettable experience; Andrea brings creativity and energy to her classroom.”
Parent Amy Chomko nominated Mrs. Choate, noting that “Kindergarten can be a scary place with lots of the unknown. It's at this age that each child first forms how they feel about school as a whole and I am so thankful Mrs. Choate has given my son such an amazing experience.”
Parent Jennifer Chenault agrees. “She takes students that are coming in with very minimum understanding and truly sets them up with a foundation of success for years to come. She is kind, compassionate, she is so hard working and engaged with every single student no matter their level of readiness.”
Finalists for Elementary Teacher of the Year were:
- Brandy Sims - Jerry Ross Elementary, 5th grade teacher
- Alex Drakulich - Winfield Elementary - Music teacher
- Jamie Pauley - Timothy Ball Elementary, 3rd grade teacher
- Patty Begley - Eisenhower Elementary - Kindergarten teacher
- Tiffany Markham - Lake Street Elementary - 1st grade teacher
- Alicia Bellamy - MacArthur Elementary - Counselor
Secondary Teacher of the Year - Allison Florek
Ali Florek is an English 9 teacher at Crown Point High School. She has worked in the district for 10 years and graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a degree in English Education. She currently co-sponsors student council, is an instructional coach for other teachers, and is the freshman class sponsor. She previously coached track and cross country at CPHS for eight years.
“It only takes a few minutes in the same room as Mrs. Ali Florek to realize that she is magic,” said Annie Lorek, CPHS Assistant Principal. “Mrs. Florek is the dinner-time conversation teacher: the one who students talk about when parents ask them about their day. She is the culture-builder: the one a colleague points to as the person who inspired them to pursue excellence in a new way. She is the joy-maker: the one who students and adults alike join in playful dancing as they make their way through the halls. She is the life-changer: the one a young adult remembers fondly as the person who saw them, believed in them, and inspired them to their greatest potential.”
Fellow CPHS teacher Rachele Raloff agrees. “Ali devotes all of her energies to CPHS. She is an engaging teacher, a connected co-worker, a respected leader, and a kind human.”
Finalists for Secondary Teacher of the Year were:
- Devin Lewis - Taft MS, English teacher
- Stephanie Olson - Col. Wheeler MS - Math teacher
Employee of the Year - Michele Kral
Michele Kral is the district’s catering manager. She has been employed at CPCSC since 2007 and has an Associates degree in Applied Science Culinary Arts from Joliet College. Before working in the district, Michele trained and cooked around the Chicagoland area, and worked in catering on the East Coast. “I love spending time with my family cooking their favorite meals when given the opportunity, family fun night and enjoying a good pizza,” said Michele. “I love using my creativity when it comes to preparing meals, knowing that food brings everyone together! “
“Michele makes sure all her food products are delicious,” said Pam Maloney, the district’s Director of Food Services. “Michele knows her audience and prepares food according to their preferences. We are lucky to have a chef on staff.”
Fellow employee Cathy Spencer nominated Michele. “Michele always puts her heart and soul into all the food and platters she creates. She treats all employees and co-workers as if they are family, and will drop what she's doing to help anyone she can.”
Finalists for Employee of the Year were:
- Al Roach - Jerry Ross Elementary, Head Custodian
- Jeannie Watson - Preschool, Paraprofessional
- Karen Harmicar - CPHS, Custodian
Administrator of the Year - Jennifer Linsley
CPCSC is proud to announce that Jennifer Linsley, principal of Jerry Ross Elementary is the 2023-2024 Administrator of the Year. Ms. Linsley has been the principal of Jerry Ross since the building opened in 2009 and brings true dedication to her role.
Parent Fred Dobry was one of the individuals who nominated Ms. Linsley. “Starting towards the end of last school year through the beginning of 2023, our family navigated a difficult situation. As a result of Ms. Linsley's compassionate and empathetic leadership, we had an entire team at Jerry Ross involved in supporting our family. She had to wear multiple hats that go well beyond the role of a typical principal. We will forever be indebted to Miss Linsley, and her entire team (in particular Miss Reeder, Miss Berger, Miss Pape, Mr. Miller, and Mr. Roach for helping us through this challenging experience. I can think of no person more deserving of this recognition this year than Principal Linsley.”
Mike Carnahan Spirit of a Bulldog Award
This special award recognizes an employee whose years of service leaves a long-lasting impact on students and the school community. Read more about CPCSC's Mike Carnahan Spirit of a Bulldog Award.