Setting the Bar

One local middle school seems to be setting the bar high for great education. Lincoln Junior High is home to the Illinois Teacher of the Year, Josh Stumpenhorst . Now his fellow teacher, Matt Langes, a 7th grade science teacher, is District 203’s Teacher Innovator for the month of November.

Matt Langes received a letter last month that said he would not be District 203’s Teacher innovator for October, but little did he know he would be November’s.

Thanks to a nomination from the Teacher of the Year, the 7th grade Science teacher at Lincoln Junior High is the recipient of a brand new printer, digital camera, and a $400 OfficeMax gift card.

“I had no idea it was coming,” said Langes. “I thought it was just a discipline presentation for our kids, so I thought it was awesome.”

“I won this award last year and OfficeMax is all about innovation and Matt did an Innovation Day so it really fit the bill for what they were looking for,” said Stumpenhorst.

Teacher Innovator is a fitting title for Langes who came up with the idea for an Innovation Day at Lincoln which gives the students a chance to pursue and learn about their own passions.

“The idea came from this Youtube video and Google where the workers are allowed to have a little bit more freedom and kind of work on what they want to do and on top of that we are getting these amazing products,” said Langes. “So the idea was, why don’t we give the students the same opportunity?”

Innovation Day has spread beyond Langes classroom. According to Stumpenhorst, schools across the country are copying the idea.

Langes does much more for his kids than teach. He is also a coach for the football and wrestling teams at Lincoln.

“He’s just always right there,” said Principal Paterala. “You don’t even have to look at him to get him to volunteer he’s just always right there and the ideas that he comes up with are always in the interest of children.”

Langes says he wants to make the kids lives a little bit better in the 42 minutes he gets to spend with them each day.

“You feel really good about yourself that you are helping people and you feel good for them because they are getting something out of your class,” said Langes. “I love teaching I think it’s the greatest job in the world.”

Langes is currently working on his Masters Degree and hopes to become a principal.

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