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McConnaughay spotlights everyday hero: Mike Storer, Kane County Educator of the Year nominee

This week, Senator McConnaughay spotlights Mike Storer, fifth grade band teacher for District 300 schools and nominee for the 2017 Kane County Educator of the Year Award.

Storer has taught in the district for 16 years and travels to teach band every week at Liberty, Algonquin Lakes, Sleepy Hollow and Dundee Highlands Elementary Schools. His passion for music and dedication to fostering students’ growth and potential earned him recognition as a top educator by Liberty Elementary School’s staff and parent community.

He got his start in music in the fifth grade himself when he first picked up the trombone, and continued to pursue music through college. After years of playing in the band, he realized how many opportunities emerged as a result of music and the impact his teachers had along the way. It was then he began to consider music education a possible career path.

“I’ve always loved helping music beginners get started,” said Storer. “They develop from that first day of not knowing anything about the instrument, and later in the year, we’re able to play great music together.”

The fifth grade is the first opportunity students are offered band, orchestra or choir as an elective class. All of the music teachers start promoting the music programs very early on to instill excitement in students before they reach the fifth grade, and the parents pitch in as well to help build momentum around music in the community. According to Storer, nearly 70 to 90 percent of the fifth grade students at his schools decide to join one of the offered music programs each year.

“The middle school band and orchestra teachers come over to talk to elementary students about the program. It helps the fifth graders realize they will have some friendly faces going into their new school. It’s the only class in middle school you’re with the same group of students the whole year—it’s a family.”

Storer’s role in a student’s music career is pivotal as he provides their first introduction into music. He guides them through all the fundamentals of the instruments and how to play as a band. His curriculum includes rhythm, proper use of the instrument, reading music and listening to each other. It is no small task with teaching four schools’ band programs, each comprised of students who learn at different paces. He spends a great deal of time outside of work preparing supplemental learning materials and brainstorming creative ways to motivate his students to practice their instrument outside of class.

As a teacher who works on a weekly basis at various schools, Storer said he was overwhelmed and honored to be recognized by Liberty’s staff members and parent community as one of their own.

“It came as quite a shock that other staff members would take the time to nominate me,” said Storer. “It can be easy to feel invisible when you’re going to so many different buildings. It’s such an honor for me, especially knowing all the other great teachers that were nominated.”

The Kane County Regional Office of Education hosted its 42nd Annual Educator of the Year award ceremony on April 28 by honoring 45 outstanding educators nominated as academic leaders by their peers. The award was presented to one educator in each of nine separate categories: classroom preschool teacher; classroom elementary teacher; classroom middle school teacher; classroom high school teacher; school administrator; student support personnel; early career educator; private/parochial; educational service personnel; and one overall top educator of the year.

“We are lucky to have such a vibrant music program in our district, and that is much in part due to passionate teachers like Mike who never stop promoting the benefits and importance of music education,” said Senator McConnaughay. “Every amazing musician you see in middle school or high school was a beginner at some point, and Mike is one of the incredible individuals who takes the time to help young students fulfill their music potential.”

Senator McConnaughay is proud to recognize Storer for his Educator of the Year nomination and thank him for his ongoing dedication to District 300.

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