Those Who Excel state honors presented to three from H-F High

The Illinois State Board of Education has honored a Homewood-Flossmoor teacher, administrator and past board member with “Those Who Excel” education awards.
Three Homewood-Flossmoor High School winners of Those Who Excel honors are, from left, Matt Holdren, teacher; Nancy Spaniak, director of curriculum, development and professional development; and past District 233 board member Jody Scariano. (Provided photo)
  Three Homewood-Flossmoor
  High School winners of Those
  Who Excel honors are, from
  left, Matt Holdren, teacher;
  Nancy Spaniak, director of
  curriculum, development and
  professional development; and
  past District 233 board member
  Jody Scariano. 
(Provided photo)
 

Teacher Matt Holdren was recognized with an award of merit; Nancy Spaniak, director of curriculum, development and professional development, received the award of excellence in the school administrator category; and Jody Scariano received the award of excellence in the community volunteer category.

The honors will be formally presented by ISBE at a ceremony Oct. 19 in Normal. They were selected for their significant contributions to education in Illinois.
 
Holdren has been at H-F the past 12 years. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication and media studies from Northern Illinois University, a bachelor’s degree in English from Governors State University and a master’s degree in education from St. Xavier University.
 
Today he teaches digital film and American literature classes at H-F and serves as a sponsor for the Viking Broadcasting Company, a student organization that includes WHFH 88.5 FM radio and VTV television stations.  He was chairman of the Fine Arts Department for two years, and taught broadcasting and Industry of Music for five years, while teaching English concurrently. 
 
“It was an honor to be put up for the award by my English Department Chair Janet Daniels, and the award is even more special to me because I get to share it with (Dr. Nancy Spaniak), a woman that has helped me grow more in my career than any other person,” Holdren said. “She has been there for me since I was a substitute teacher at the high school always encouraging me and leading me to where I am today. I'll be forever grateful!”
 
“Matt sincerely cares about all aspects of our learners — their academic growth and their social-emotional well-being — and this is apparent in his daily lessons and rapport with students,” Daniels said. 
 
“Because of his knowledge and resourcefulness, his students are able to showcase their talents under his careful direction and produce and create outstanding pieces,” she added. “His raw talent mixed with his pedagogical approaches make him an integral part of our Viking family.”
 
Spaniak has worked at H-F since 2004, first as a reading coordinator, then as the department chair for reading and currently as the director of curriculum, instruction and professional development.
 
“Dr. Spaniak has worked diligently to expand the leadership capacity of teachers to positively impact both classroom instruction, student learning and student achievement,” District 233 Superintendent Von Mansfield said. 
 
“She has been integral to our organization’s work to distribute leadership beyond the administrative offices and into classrooms to establish a more collaborative school culture focused on teaching and learning.”
 
“I am deeply honored to have been nominated by Dr. Mansfield for this award and am extremely grateful to the staff members, parents and students who took the time to write letters of recommendation for me,” Spaniak said.
 
“My service to Homewood-Flossmoor High School has truly been a labor of love. It has given me the privilege of contributing to the promotion H-F's mission ‘to improve the quality of each student's life’ while allowing me to grow exponentially — both professionally and personally,” she said. 
 
Scariano was a District 233 Board of Education member from 1999-2019, serving as the board president from 2003-2011.
 
“I am grateful and feel so blessed,” Scariano said of receiving the honor. “I’m sending a big thank you to all those who nominated me. The Those Who Excel award is not just important to those who win, but for the Homewood-Flossmoor High School community.”
 
In his endorsement letter, Mansfield said “it takes a deep passion and a keen, complete understanding of educational policy, process and programming to accomplish the task” of a board member. He said Scariano “has met the challenge head-on with fortitude and an unparalleled commitment to the students, staff and entire H-F community.”
 
“Jody's support for the staff and students of the science, fine arts and H-F over the years has been unwavering,” said Kim Smith, H-F’s science department chair, who along with Jackie Wargo, fine arts department chair, nominated Scariano. 
 
“She has been present at our events ranging from STEM night, concerts, retirement parties for support staff and new teacher induction supporting us in happy and challenging times.”

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