Charter Excellence Awards

INCS Charter Excellence Awards

2022 Charter Excellence Award Winners Announced by Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) 

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


On Tuesday, November 29, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) announced the winners of the 2022 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. 


Awards are given in several categories each year, following a thorough application process that begins with nominations from charter public schools across the state. Sponsored through our partnership with Invest for Kids, these awards include $10,000 cash awards to the charter school principal of the year and $10,000 each to two charter school teachers of the year, one high school and one elementary school. 


This year, INCS received over 120 nominations for leaders, teachers, parents and students from across Illinois’ charter sector, which spans 137 schools throughout the state. As with years’ past, 2022’s nominations were fiercely competitive.


The 2022 Charter Excellence Awards went to:


Principal of the Year:

Sekou Robertson – LEARN Excel


High School Teacher of the Year:

Melissa Marcial – Intrinsic Schools Belmont

Finalist:  Sherry Grutzius – Southland College Prep High School


Elementary Teacher of the Year:

Lindy Mandel – CICS Irving Park

Finalist: Chad Floor – Elgin Math and Science Academy


Parent Advocates of the Year:

Maria ” Candy” Lopez – Acero Schools

Kimberly Gore – Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools – Barbara Sizemore Campus


Lifetime Achievement Award:
Tonya Hernandez – Noble Schools


Illinois Charter School Outstanding Senior:

Jakoby Strange – Legal Prep Charter Academy

Natalie Lopez – Horizon Science Academy McKinley Park

Iori Lagunas – Aspira Early College High School

Desiree Vele – Intrinsic Schools Downtown


Illinois Charter School Outstanding 8th Grader:

Valeria Cruz – Galapagos Rockford Charter School

Santana Johnson – KIPP One Academy

Nominations for the 2023 INC


INCS would like to thank our generous sponsors for their support of the 2022 INCS Charter Excellence Awards:

Awards Sponsor

Bronze Sponsor

A/V Sponsor

Sponsors and Supporters