A Waunakee High School graduate now teaching at a Des Plaines, Illinois, high school was recently named the Secondary Teacher of the Year by the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (IAHPERD).
Stacy McCluskey, whose parents, Bob and Marge Kaether, live in Waunakee, is a physical education teacher at Maine West High School.
Maine West Principal Eileen McMahon wrote a letter as part of McCluskey’s nomination submission for the Northeastern District High School Physical Education Teacher of the Year, an honor she won earlier in the year and that qualified her for the state award. She will be honored at this year’s convention on Dec. 3 at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
The letter included the following information:
“It is with enormous pride that I submit this letter of recommendation for Stacy McCluskey as Northeastern Illinois PE Teacher of the Year.
“As it happens, I observed Stacy’s teaching just a couple of weeks ago and left her class reluctantly, marveling at both her craft and her kindness. She is an outstanding designer of instruction, a true innovator who continuously examines her systems to give each and every individual student the experience of a deeply connected learning community. She is a building leader in social-emotional learning and in instructional technology. She is a caring and dependable mentor for the new teachers in her department and a trusted colleague and leader among the veterans. I think our PE Department across the board is outstanding. Even among this distinguished group of teachers, Stacy is a standout. I am incredibly excited that she is being considered for this recognition that she deeply deserves.
“Stacy is humble, unassuming, and gracious — but all about it when it comes to getting things done. In my previous role as assistant principal for Teaching and Learning, I worked with building and department instructional coaches, of which Stacy is one. I saw first hand that she is exceptional, not just in her own instructional skillset, notably in differentiation, assessment, and community-building, but also in enhancing the skills of her peers in these areas. She doesn’t just attend professional development to check the boxes. She engages vigorously, brings back things to try immediately in her class, refines them, and shares. Teachers who differentiate best do so from the first step in the design process. Everything I have ever seen Stacy do in class, from leveled fitness groups to exit slips to restorative circles, is intentional. She is as technically proficient a teacher as we have in this building--and she executes virtually every move in class with a genuine smile on her face and a bounce in her step. She works incredibly hard and seems happy to do it. The next time I see her frown or complain will be the first time, and I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.
“I feel a deep sense of gratitude for Stacy’s indispensable leadership as a member of our inaugural Link Crew team. This year we have made more efforts than we ever have to attend to our students social-emotional well-being and decision-making. As one of five teachers who lead the way in developing this brand-new (for us) programming and training the student leaders to deliver our curriculum to our freshmen, Stacy is breaking new ground for our whole school community. We chose Stacy for this role because we knew she’d do an outstanding job. Everyone at Maine West knows that Stacy is one of the all-time greats in pedagogy, and she competes with one or two other rare individuals for the title of kindest and most pleasant person in the school. We have a way to go in developing our SEL curriculum and figuring out how to deliver it faithfully, but the one part I don’t worry about is the experience of our freshmen (and their leaders) in Link Crew. Stacy is a crucial part of why.”
McCluskey graduated from Waunakee High School in 1993, and from UW LaCrosse in 1998. She is married to Tom McCluskey, also a 1993 graduate of WHS.