For her passion and commitment to students, Donna Mann has received the Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators Association Arthur J. Stejskal Teacher of the Year Award.
"Donna Mann is the Quintessential Adult Education/GED/HSE instructor,” said Maggie Wolf, director of adult education at KCC. “She is absolutely and totally committed to her students. She has taught, guided, and encouraged countless students through the process of obtaining their High School Equivalencies. Outside of the classroom, she is a joy to work with and she is a devoted friend."
Mann teaches high school equivalency courses at Kankakee Community College’s Miner South Extension Center in Watseka. She received the award on Thursday, March 8 at the association’s conference in Springfield. Among other criteria, it recognizes a person who demonstrates commitment to the profession, accepts the uniqueness of learners, is supportive and fosters freedom of thought and expression.
“Donna has such a wonderful compassion for educating and seeing students succeed with passing their high school equivalency,” said Liz East, administrative assistant for the Adult education department. “Students look at and refer to Donna as their second mother; they just love and adore her.”
It is the first time since 2015 that the award has been given.
"She is a very elegant and graceful teacher,” said Yamei Rohlfs of Watseka. “She believes in what she does and she believes in her students. She teaches us what real persistence means. I couldn’t be more blessed to be one of her students and I am honored to have her as my teacher. She not only teaches us what the books tell us but also the perspectives about life, which makes her truly a wonderful teacher!!!"
Another former student, Kay Martin of Watseka, said “She had such a way of teaching that it brought the whole class together as a team to work on areas we needed most and better prepare us for testing. She showed me at that moment her true character and dedication that she has as a teacher. Her passion to help each person be the best they could be was infectious, as well as empowered us with knowledge gained in such a diverse group we had, was just absolutely amazing!”
Mann has taught at KCC since 1986, working as an adult education instructor, including teaching high school equivalency courses and English as a Second Language. Prior to that, she retired from the Watseka School District, where she taught junior high language arts.
“Donna’s passion for helping students obtain their educational goals is admirable,” said Nancy Schunke, who has worked with Mann at the Watseka Center for four years. “Her compassion, dedication and fiery spirit plays a large role in the success of her students.”
It is the second year in a row that a KCC employee has earned a statewide award from the Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators Association. In 2017, Wolf was named the organization’s Administrator of the Year.