Teacher Highlights



On February 20, the Chicago Foundation for Education was pleased to honor Hannah Nolan-Spohn of Pulaski International School of Chicago with the 2019 Debby Jannotta and Shirley Jaffee CFE Teacher of the Year Award. Students, colleagues, family, and CFE representatives pulled off the surprise presentation to Ms. Nolan-Spohn.

Established in 2010, the CFE Teacher of the Year Award is presented to a CPS educator who not only surpasses expectations to provide outstanding instruction, but also supports students in achieving their academic and social-emotional goals. Additionally, the award recipient has demonstrated a strong commitment to professional learning, and consistently serves as a resource for colleagues within and beyond her school community. 

Ms. Nolan-Spohn considers teaching to be an opportunity to disrupt inequality and injustice. As a Diverse Learners educator, she advocates for quality education for all students and builds her students’ confidence around their learning differences. To develop critical thinking in her students, she designs curriculum that emphasizes unique points of view, using literature that highlights marginalized voices and perspectives, and engages her class in discussion around complex themes.

She has led professional development activities on inclusivity for LGBTQ students and has since become a resource for Pulaski’s staff as far as making changes to gender-specific language and practices that unintentionally limit students. Ms. Nolan-Spohn is dedicated to her own professional development, and has participated in several CFE grant-based programs throughout the years.

“We are honored to support Hannah’s consummate work in the classroom and pleased to recognize her with this prestigious award,” said Sarah Hoppe Knight, Co-Executive Director of the Chicago Foundation for Education. “She truly embodies the spirit of a CFE educator, always striving to enhance student experiences through the betterment of her own practice.”

Each year, educators submit nominations for the CFE Teacher of the Year Award, and a selection committee judiciously selects the recipient. Hannah’s nominators noted her universal intelligence, collaborative spirit, supportive personality, depth of understanding when it comes to diverse learners, and the fact that she is both highly-respected and always respectful.