District 186 Educator Of The Year

ReChad Bradley, a mathematics teacher at Southeast High School, is the 2017 Springfield (Illinois) Public Schools - Horace Mann Educator of the Year. The announcement marked the 30th 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.

“I try to let my students be themselves,” said Bradley about his teaching philosophy. “I don’t like to put any boundaries on what they can do. I want them to be who they are and connect with them over time.”

Bradley thanked his parents and many others, who he said “pushed and pulled” him along his journey as an educator. “I think that’s what we do for everybody. You just don’t know it. You’re always guiding, pushing and pulling and getting the kids to where they belong.”

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, ReChad won a crystal owl statue and $1,000. The four other finalists – Trae Cotner of Springfield High School, Linda Daugherty of Carl Sandburg Elementary School, Michele DeLong of Matheny-Withrow Elementary School and Brad Kyes of Springfield High 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 2017 Administrator of the Year is Enos Elementary School Principal Claudia Johnson . She won a plaque and $500. The two finalists, Grant Middle School Guidance Dean Kim Crum and Southeast High School Principal Jason Wind, received a plaque and $250.

The 2017 Rising Stars are Tosha King of Matheny-Withrow Elementary School, Karianna Lauer of Fairview Elementary School and Jennifer Urick of McClernand Elementary School. They each earned a plaque and $250.

Previous Educator of the Year Winners

  • 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

*Deceased


WBER-0803 (6/14)

© 2017 Horace Mann Educators Corporation

CUSTOMER SERVICE Call 800-999-1030

  • Auto and Property
    M – F, 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Central time.
  • Life, Annuity and Group
    M – F, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Central time.