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Tri-Cities educators receive honors at banquet

ST. CHARLES – Three people from the St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia public school districts were honored Friday night for their contributions to education.

The 39th Annual Kane County Educator of the Year Awards Banquet was held Friday at the Q Center, 1405 N. 5th Ave. Attendees were treated to dinner and accolades from their peers.

Honorees included Ame Kazmer of Geneva High School for High School Teacher of the Year, Julio Rubieles of St. Charles North High School with the Educational Service Personnel Award and Mary Ellen Adkins of Alice Gustafson School in Batavia with the Student Support Personnel Award.

The actual Kane County Educator of the Year Award went to Carol Mertes of Johnson Elementary School in East Aurora School District 131.

A committee at each nominee’s school building or school district puts together a large binder with letters and pictures detailing their work and accomplishments. Kazmer’s binder included information on how she goes above and beyond as a special education teacher to make her students better readers, some of whom enter high school at an elementary-school reading level.

Kazmer’s binder also included praise from students and parents over her 25 years of teaching.

“We believe Ame Kazmer was instrumental in giving our son, David Massey, the chance to reach for and take hold of the career path that he had dreamed of,” Scott and Taffy Massey said in a letter.

The Masseys wrote about how Kazmer helped David Massey through a difficult senior year. Their son was accepted into what they called the top automotive school in the country and now he works in the automotive industry.

“Thank you. I’m just unbelievably humbled to be in this room,” Kazmer said Friday as she accepted her award.

Another award recipient making an impact at the high-school level was Rubieles, who is head custodian at St. Charles North.

Rubieles works long hours and is at the school building before 6 a.m. each school day. He thanked his wife, his children and everyone that supports his work on Friday during his acceptance speech.

“I’m shaking,” Rubieles said. “I didn’t expect to receive this tonight.”

“Julio is a humble man, who knows that working hard leads to great success,” said Lindsay Boynton, a St. Charles North social studies teacher. “He is a patient boss to his team, willing to do all of the same tasks that he requires them to do.” 

One of the things that makes Rubieles stand out is the way he watches over the baby ducks that are born in the St. Charles North courtyard each year. After the baby ducklings had to be rescued from the drainage system in the courtyard one year, Rubieles built a protective fence around the area of the nest, Boynton said.

Rubieles started as a custodian at Thompson Middle School in 2004. Another honoree that started in a different building was Adkins, a speech language pathologist for 30 years across different districts. She came to Batavia School District 101 in 1993 and has spent the last eight years at Alice Gustafson.

As a pathologist, Adkins works collaboratively with other teachers to identify students in need of speech and language services, determines the most effective treatments and approaches and monitors student progress, according to Jan Wright, Alice Gustafson school principal.

Wright and other District 101 employees stood up, clapped and cheered after Adkins’ name was called.

Adkins joked that receiving an award is a way to render a speech pathologist totally speechless.

“Thank you so much,” she said during her acceptance speech. “It’s just been the most rewarding career I could have ever chosen.”

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