Features Posts

arrow_back_ios Back

2020 Charter Excellence Award Winners Announced by Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS)

Posted on: December 16, 2020

Principal and teacher awardees each receive $10,000 in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments

CHICAGO, IL – Today, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) announced the winners of the 2020 Charter Excellence Awards. Each year, these awards recognize the achievements of exceptional principals, teachers, students, and advocates in the charter public school community across Illinois. Charter schools are nonselective, tuition-free public schools that serve predominantly students of color.

Awards are given in several categories each year, following a thorough application process that begins with nominations from charter public schools across the state. The Principal, High School Teacher, and Elementary School Teacher of the Year each receives $10,000. Students of the Year receive scholarships, and additional awards are given to parents, advocates, and charter champions.

The challenging circumstances of 2020 make this year’s awardees’ accomplishments that much more notable. Along with public schools across Illinois and the country, charter educators, students, and families were forced to navigate a pandemic and a sudden shift to mostly remote learning throughout the school year. In this context, the remarkable work of the 2020 CEA award winners shines even brighter.

“Charter schools thrive on innovation and adaptability. With everything our community has gone through this year, we’ve still seen some of the most creative and thoughtful approaches to modern education in years,” explained Andrew Broy, president of INCS. “The 2020 winners of the Charter Excellence Awards embody everything that makes the charter public school community such a force for good. We are so proud of all they have done and will continue to do.”

This year, INCS received over 80 nominations for leaders, teachers, parents and students from across Illinois’ charter sector, which spans 139 schools throughout the state. As with years’ past, 2020’s nominations were fiercely competitive.


Illinois Charter School Principal of the Year
Winner: Kristin Novy, Christopher House Charter School
Finalist: Michael Kuran, Chicago Math and Science Academy

Illinois Charter School High School Teacher of the Year
Winner: Angela Kinney, Chicago Math and Science Academy
Finalist: Amina Benloucif, University of Chicago Charter School

Illinois Charter School Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Winner: Lydia Garza, Namaste
Finalist: Courtney Stachler, KIPP Chicago

High School Student Winners
Mariana Martinez, Chicago Math and Science Academy
Ryan Sheri Howard, Southland College Prep
Walisha Brown, CICS ChicagoQuest
Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Noble Network of Charter Schools

8th Grade Student Winners
Autumn Burks, Galapagos
Jamil Johnson, Alaine Locke

Parent Champion
Nieves Hernandez, Rowe Elementary

Lifetime Achievement Award
John Horan, North Lawndale College Prep

Charter Champion
IL State Representative Curtis J. Tarver, II (D) 25th District

For more information, please contact Jodie Cantrell, Director of External Affairs, at jcantrell@incschools.org.


The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities. Learn more at incschools.org.