Bloomington-Normal, IL —Teach Plus congratulates middle school band teacher and 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois Policy Fellow Eric Combs on being named 2020 Illinois Teacher of the Year by the Illinois State Board of Education. Eric has aspired to make a difference as a band teacher since he sat as a student in the same classroom where he now teaches. To serve his low-income students, he has partnered with community donors to provide free instruments. Eric also founded an international community of band directors that shares curricular resources, and recently collected enough donations to fund a band director position for students in a Honduran orphanage.
“On behalf of Teach Plus, I congratulate Eric on receiving this incredible honor. Eric is a selfless advocate for his students and has dedicated his life to making sure the children in his school have opportunities to share the joy music can bring,” said Bill Curtin, Teach Plus Teacher Leadership Coach. “The fact that he has also been able to connect with others around the world to expand that impact is a testament to his passion and commitment to service.”
Along with the other nine finalists for the award, Eric will spend the 2019-20 school year as a Fellow in the Teach Plus Illinois Policy Fellowship. In that role, he and his colleagues in the cohort will work to devise policy solutions to attract quality educators and address the 4,193 unfilled teaching positions across Illinois. Earlier in the day leading up to the award presentation, the group met with state senator Chuck Weaver of Peoria to share solutions they have researched, including providing high school career programs for future teachers, mentoring programs for early career educators, and leadership and recognition opportunities for our best teachers.
About Teach Plus
Teach Plus is dedicated to the mission of empowering excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that advance equity, opportunity, and student success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning, to create an education system driven by access and excellence for all. teachplus.org