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Grayslake VFW names Teacher of the Year at GCHS

VFW Cmdr. Paul Ahern Grayslake presents Grayslake Central High School teacher DustChierico with RHill Memorial Post 2245 Teacher Year award

VFW Cmdr. Paul Ahern of Grayslake presents Grayslake Central High School teacher Dustin Chierico with the Ron Hill Memorial Post 2245 Teacher of the Year award at the school's annual Veteran's Day breakfast Wednesday. | Thomas Delany Jr. - tdelany@stmed

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Updated: April 2, 2011 5:24PM

GRAYSLAKE — “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world.” This quote from noted anthropologist Margaret Mead is the guiding principle for the Grayslake Central High School teacher who was named teacher of the year.

Grayslake Veterans of Foreign Wars Ron Hill Memorial Post 2245 honored Dustin Chierico at the school’s annual Veterans Day breakfast Wednesday.

“He has a great passion and love for the students there at the school,” said post Cmdr. Paul Ahern.

This was the first year Grayslake VFW named a teacher of the year as part of the VFW’s Citizenship Education Teacher Award Program, Ahern said. The recognition is open to elementary school teachers through high school educators, he said.

Chierico was selected as the Teacher of the Year for 2010 to 2011 school year for his dynamic teaching and his impact on promoting citizenship and civic responsibility.

The public service practicum class Chierico teaches organized a Veterans Day breakfast. The goal of the breakfast was to honor veterans, said John Bolger, associate principal for curriculum. The veterans changed it up this year by honoring Chierico.

“Dustin is one of those teachers that goes way beyond the curriculum and touches lives. The kids love him—he is universally loved in this building,” Bolger said.

Chierico also teaches economics. He has taught at Grayslake Central for 12 years, eight of which included the Public Service Practicum class, he said.

He said he was surprised to be named Teacher of the Year.

“It was quite an honor because you’re talking about veterans who have done so much for the community with their service,” Chierico said. “When you receive an award like this, it’s not just an award for you—it’s for all students who have been a part of public service practicum.”

He said he liked helping create opportunities for students.

“You get to challenge them to better learn how to impact their communities in a positive way,” Chierico said.

Public service practice teaches students how to develop into leaders while changing their communities, he said. The class gives students a hands-on approach to community service.

Students found businesses to donate food for the Veterans Day breakfast and did all the decorating themselves.

Chierico puts the kids first, said Grayslake Principal Sidney Klocke. She described him as a teacher who goes “above and beyond” for his students.

“I think it’s an outstanding opportunity. It’s a well-deserved recognition,” Klocke said. “Overall, he’s a good guy who does the right thing by kids.”

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