Eric Combs is a 2019-20 Teach Plus Illinois ILSTOY Policy Fellow and the 2020 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Eric teaches 6th-8th grade band at the Richland County Middle School in Olney, Illinois. Under his direction, the RCMS band program was recognized twice by the US Congress as one of the top 100 “Best Communities for Music Education” award-winning schools in the United States. He is a 2019 winner of the WTHI-TV10 Golden Apple award and of the WSIU (National Public Radio) “One Region, All Neighbors” award. Eric s a regional council representative in the teacher’s union and serves as a delegate to the state Regional Assembly. He is an author of three music education books and maintains two blogs, a YouTube channel, the website www.banddirectorsshare.com, and several social media outlets that reach more than 5,000 educators. In 2019, Eric helped to raise funds to hire a full-time instrumental music instructor in the Impact Ministries International orphanage in Honduras. He holds a BA and an MA in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University.