A Union County teacher is one of ten finalists for the Illinois State Board of Education's 2018 Teacher of the Year award.
Shawnee High School social sciences teacher Jamie Nash-Mayberry and her students gained national attention years ago when they worked to bring attention to the condition of levees along the Mississippi River.
Nash-Mayberry says her recognition is a reflection of how dedicated her students have been over the years.
"What they've done is help get me to where I am as a teacher too. From the levee work we've done, but also helping establish a Shawnee Veterans Wall here at our school recognizing veterans. The mock trials and mock elections we have that are successes in the classroom. All those things the students help make them a success."
She says the best way for her to get students interested is by providing them with real world activities.
"With the levee project, this wasn't just some made up simulation, this was real world and affecting their homes and it was a chance for the students to feel like they were making a difference. It really increased their sense of agency. Now, they continue to give back. When there's floods, you see former students out there sandbagging. They speak out at hearings."
Nash-Mayberry says she feels like she's representing teachers throughout southern Illinois since she is the only educator from the area who is a finalist.
The winner will be announced October 28.