Woman with local ties named Teacher of the Year in Village of Gurnee


Gurnee–Woodland Elementary East Reading Specialist Roshaunda Henson has been recognized by the Village of Gurnee as one of its three Teachers of the Year for 2014.

The Village of Gurnee introduced a new award this year to recognize the excellent teachers that support the students in the Gurnee community. The Gurnee Teacher of the Year award will be given to a teacher from Woodland District 50, Gurnee District 56 and Warren Township High School District 121.

Henson was nominated by her colleague, second grade teacher Kristin Krueger.

As a recipient, Henson will receive a plaque, be given a check for $1,000 and be formally recognized at a Village Board meeting on April 7 at 7:30 p.m.

“Roshaunda Henson is an excellent representative of the hundreds of talented teachers that comprise our faculty,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joy A. Swoboda. “Roshaunda has a gift that leads her to influence children, support the district’s strategic plan and model positive expectations both in and out of the classroom. She impacts education and students alike.”

Born and raised in Belleville, IL, Henson joined Woodland in 2002 as a second grade teacher at Elementary East. She taught second grade for 10 years and is currently a second grade reading specialist. During her time at Woodland, Henson has been awarded various grants by the Woodland Educational Foundation for technologies in the classroom. She has served on various district committees and was a team leader for two years.

Henson comes from a family of retired and current educators with both parents having taught for 34 years in East St. Louis.

“Teaching and being an educator has always been in my blood,” said Henson.

Henson earned her undergraduate degree in education from Eastern Illinois. She continued her education to receive graduate degrees from St. Xavier University in Curriculum and Instruction, Concordia University for her administrative certification and  Dominican University for her reading specialist certification.

“I consider myself to be a lifelong learner,” said Henson. “As I grew older I would spend time in my mom’s classroom, even when I would come home from college to work with her and her kids.I was able to see the impact they had on educating and reaching students needs (academic, social, and emotional).My parents have always been my number one role models and best teachers.”

Though Henson attributes her success to her parents, the impact she has made on students, staff and parents is clearly evident at her school, Woodland Elementary East.

“Elementary East is very fortunate to have Roshaunda Henson among its faculty,” said Principal Dr. Ken Hyllberg.”Affectionately known as ‘Ro’, she is a role model for both students and staff, treating all students and colleagues with respect.

“Ro is incredibly responsible and can be depended upon to complete her duties beyond expectations. She accepts people for who they are and supports them in reaching their goals.”

Henson’s influence on children extends outside of the school. Over the last several years, Henson has served as a third grade coach for the Girls on the Run program which helps girls develop self confidence and prepares them to complete a 5K race.

Henson has also assisted with the advancement of the district’s 2012-2016 strategic plan. Incorporating technology into the curriculum and focusing on the integration of Common Core State Standards have been major initiatives within the strategic plan.

“Ro has applied for grants to get additional technology, provided training for teachers on incorporating technology into their lessons, and is the school’s point person for technology support,” said Dr. Hyllberg. “She supports our second grade teachers in developing lessons that will prepare their students for college and careers in the 21st century.”

“I consider myself very fortunate for having the opportunity to work with an amazing group of students and staff,” said Henson. “They inspire me to work with sincerity and dedication. I credit them with the my professional growth and I thank them for that.”

Roshaunda’s grandmother is Mary Etta Moore Shields and she lives in the Mt. Pleasant Community of Noxapater, MS.