An Elgin sixth-grade teacher will be recognized as a hero in the classroom at the next Chicago Bears home game.
The Bears organization, Harriet Gifford Elementary School officials, and students surprised Marty Angelo Wednesday morning with the Hero in the Classroom award. Angelo is one of 16 Chicago-area teachers the Bears, Symetra Life Insurance Company, and Gallagher Benefit Services will recognize this season with the honor. The recognition honors outstanding teachers with prizes, in-game recognition and money for their classrooms.
I never considered myself to be a hero, said Angelo, 44, on Thursday; he called the recognition humbling and was still feeling numb after the surprise. I just do what I do. I just hope that I can make a difference in someones life.
It has been a trying year for me personally, as you know, and this really opens up a whole ray of sunshine that I just never imagined, and Im just so grateful for you guys, Angelo told his students during Wednesdays announcement. Despite all our hardships, Im thankful for you coming to school every day because its you guys that help me get through the things Im going through, and I hope to be there for you, too, to help you and to add a little sunshine to you.
Angelos wife, Melodie, died in September after being diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year. Angelo returned to teach less than two weeks after her death despite the understanding from school officials he could take off more time.
It was kind of hard sitting at home thinking the next steps, thinking of how to take care of affairs, said Angelo, who has worked at the school for more than two decades. My (Harriet Gifford students) were already having a hard time at the start of the school year. Being out of the classroom, I felt I needed to be there with them, getting back to a routine. I thought it would help me get back on track. It was helpful both ways.
Angelo said the sixth-grade classes were plotting an outdoor education field trip to Wisconsin Wednesday when visitors arrived. He said he knew something was up when Bears Chairman George McCaskey walked in.
Angelo received a $2,000 check Wednesday that can be used on school supplies and classroom books. He also received tickets to a Bears game at Soldier Field. According to a School District U46 news release, Angelo will receive pre-game sideline access and will be acknowledged during an on-field presentation at the Oct. 21 game between the Bears and the New England Patriots.
Hes just one of the nicest guys youll ever meet, and he never says no to anybody, Principal Joe Corcoran said in a statement. Hes passionate about what he does.
According to the districts announcement, Angelo rides the bus home with his students every day, makes home visits if a student becomes chronically absent, attends their sports games during the weekends and welcomes back his former students for classroom visits.
The Symetra Heroes in the Classroom award has honored over 570 teachers nationwide for educational excellence since its inception in 2006, and Symetra has contributed nearly $950,000 for school books, equipment and programming. As a result of Angelos recognition, Harriet Gifford is now eligible for a larger a $20,000 education grant through Symetra Heroes in the Classroom, according to the U46 release.