JTHS Teacher Patricia “Patti” Edwards selected for the Those Who Excel Award
The Illinois State Board of Education has selected Joliet Central High School teacher Patti Edwards as a 2016-2017 Those Who Excel education award recipient. This award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the state’s public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools. Recipients receive recognition at a special banquet held in October.
Ms. Edwards has taught Adapted Physical Education at Joliet Central High School since 1988. She has also served as the Chair of Subject Area Committee, a Snowball leader, and as a Miracle League baseball team coach.
Angel Hauert, Academy Coordinator at Joliet Central High School, said, “What makes Patti so special is that she works with special needs students on a daily basis with a caring team of teachers. She is passionate about her content area and loves her students. I believe that she was put on this Earth to do what she is doing, and that is teaching.”
One of Edwards’ greatest contributions has been establishing the Peer Trainer program shortly after being hired. In this program, students at Joliet Central High School work one-on-one in their physical education class with students who are mentally and/or physically challenged. This program has inspired peer trainers to pursue careers in the special education field. The Adapted Physical Education/Peer Trainer programs main focus is to accept differences in others. The students build relationships, learn it is more about ability than disability, participate in many activities and have fun. This aligns with her teaching philosophy, which is based on the following quote by Maya Angelou, “ I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In addition to teaching, Edwards along with Ms. Christiansen took the initiative to bring the Rachel’s Challenge program to Joliet Central High School in 2009. Inspired by the life of Rachel Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine tragedy, Edwards and Christiansen organized a school and community assembly attended by thousands to start a chain reaction of kindness.
After the event, she co-founded the Friends of Rachel Club. The club holds monthly birthday parties for residents at a local homeless shelter, collects clothing for people in need, and volunteers at numerous community events where students paint faces of children, and provide other services.
To further spread the message of compassion and acceptance, Ms. Edwards worked tirelessly to secure donations and funding for two Peace Poles at the entrance of the school that relay the message, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in 13 languages. Her initiative has left an enduring visual reminder that conflicts can be resolved peacefully.
Ms. Edwards has also been awarded the 2010 Joliet Area Great Teacher Award, the 1999 Sam’s Club Teacher of the Year and is a Michael Jordan Grant Recipient. philosophy on teaching students is based on the following quote by Maya Angelou, “ I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”