Educators' Innovations Recognized

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Byline: Madhu Krishnamurthy Daily Herald Staff Writer

Recognition from peers is always welcomed, but for an educator it's student appreciation that matters.

With the help of their students, Libertyville's Adler Park Elementary schoolteacher Emily Maki and Vernon Hills' Hawthorn Junior High science teacher Doug Shearer won this year's Outstanding Teacher of the Year award from Abbott Laboratories.

The awards are given for contributions to mathematics and science education in the classroom through Abbott Laboratories' chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.

Maki and Shearer were among three winners chosen out of 50 area educators from Lake and nearby counties, nominated by their students. They were honored at an annual Sigma Xi banquet last month.

"I think it signifies a teacher's greatest honor to be recognized by her students to be outstanding," Maki said.

To Shearer, the award came as a total surprise as he wasn't aware of the nomination. The 43-year-old has taught at Hawthorn for 21 years and won the award once before in 1993.

"I probably do a little bit more chemistry than the average teacher does in junior high," he said.

His techniques involved giving free rein to students in the lab to do hands-on experiments. Shooting rockets, creating chemical reactions, blowing up hydrogen gases, causing explosions and making liquid nitrogen ice cream are just some of the student antics.

"The big part of my job in junior high is to get kids excited about science so they can take the tough classes in high school," Shearer said.

Candidates have to be nominated by at least one student. …