District 186 Educator Of The Year

Layne Zimmers, a teacher at Lincoln Magnet School, is the 2016 Springfield (Illinois) Public Schools - Horace Mann Educator of the Year. The announcement marked the 29th consecutive year for this teacher recognition program in the hometown of Horace Mann’s headquarters. Horace Mann has sponsored and supported the program since its inception.

Layne has been a teacher for 10 years and currently teaches sixth grade World History. She does everything in her power to help students understand what is going on in the world around them. Through her teaching and technology, she takes students to every corner of the world and connects their learning to modern day history.

“It’s a fulfilling career. I’m always extremely happy every day. I wake up thinking about school and end my day thinking about school. It’s just so rewarding,” Layne said. “When you see that light bulb moment with a student, it’s makes it all worth it.”

Five finalists for the Educator of the Year Award were celebrated for their teaching excellence at a May luncheon, and short video presentations depicted their stories for families and friends before the winner was announced. As the Educator of the Year, Layne won a crystal owl statue and $1,000. The four other finalists – Jenni Baldin of Feitshans Elementary School, Lou Anne Gray Lowder of Lee Elementary School, Nicolette Harris of Fairview Elementary School and Martha Havey of Marsh Elementary School – each earned a commemorative crystal apple and $250.

Recognition Grows

In 2009, Horace Mann and Springfield Public Schools added the Rising Star award to the annual district-wide recognition program and in 2013 added the Administrator of the Year award.

The 2016 Administrator of the Year is Douglas/PREP Principal Kari Borders. She won a plaque and $500. The two finalists, Iles School Principal Kenyatta Revelle and Franklin Middle School Assistant Principal Karen Stroemer, received a plaque and $250.

The 2016 Rising Stars are Samantha Cuzzort of Grant Middle School, Dan Hartman of Dubois Elementary School and Erica Quandahl of Fairview Elementary School. They each earned a plaque and $250.

Previous Educator of the Year Winners

  • 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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