Stagg's Wendelin named Claes Nobel Educator of the Year


The District 230 School Board honored Stagg High School English Teacher Chris Wendelin for being named a Top 10 Claes Nobel Educator of the Year. Claes Nobel, senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prize and Chairman of The National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), announced the Claes Nobel Educators of the Year on Saturday, December 2, 2017, at The Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, Georgia.


The Educator of the Year Award recognizes ten exemplary educators who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to preparing students for success. These ten educators were each nominated by a student for Educator of the Year Award to spotlight their accomplishments.  Since the inception of the Educators of Distinction program in 2004, NSHSS has recognized more than 40,000 educators worldwide. 

“I am very proud to honor these ten outstanding educators who have continuously encouraged students to strive for excellence,” Mr. Nobel said. “These educators serve as remarkable role models in their schools and communities, and uphold the NSHSS mission of helping to advance the goals and aspirations of their students.”

Christopher Wendelin, a Top Ten 2017 Claes Nobel Educator of the Year, is a freshmen, Advanced Placement, and senior level English teacher at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Illinois. Mr. Wendelin seeks to provide education that is “long-term and nonlinear.” He believes, “Students and teachers should see themselves and each other as works in progress, using every setback, success, and query as a stepping stone to improvement and believing that everyone can grow and learn with hard work and grit.” 

Eric Olsen, principal of Amos Alonzo Stagg High School explains, “Chris has always shown himself to be an excellent teacher. He is a genuine individual, whose caring personality coupled with humor and humility allows him to form meaningful connections with students, helping each one believe that not only that they can learn, but also that they deserve to be successful.” 

Wendelin’s nominating student writes, “He has gone above and beyond making learning fun along with co-teaching a one of a kind class dedicated to the Voice of Witness program while willingly giving up his plan period to help students and make sure they succeed.”

The Voice of Witness class Wendelin and fellow teacher Lisa Thyer created was the subject of a documentary by a University of Illinois College of Media Instructor and his journalism students entitled Voices of Stagg. The documentary can be viewed at

 The Top Ten 2017 Claes Nobel Educators of the Year are:

  •  Joyce Kim, Honors English Teacher, Prospect High School, Mount Prospect, IL
  • Thelvie Cullins, Jr., AP Calculus Teacher, School for the Talented and Gifted at Townview Magnet
  • Center, Dallas, TX
  • Kelly Eddy, AP U.S. History Teacher, Churchill High School, Livonia, MI
  • Bob Fenster, AP Social Studies Teacher, Hillsborough High School, Hillsborough, NJ
  • McKenzie Lueders, Honors Chemistry Teacher, Dodge City High School, Dodge City, KS
  • Jo-Ann McCauley, AP French Language and Culture; Department Chair, Wesleyan School, Norcross, GA
  • Rebecca Nelson, AP English Teacher, Oswego East High School, Oswego, IL
  • Tad Sours, AP History Teacher, Haas Hall Academy – Fayetteville, Fayetteville, AR
  • Cate Praggastis, AVID Program Coordinator, East High School, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Christopher Wendelin, AP English Teacher, Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Palos Hills, IL


About the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS):

Formed in 2002 by James W. Lewis and Claes Nobel, senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prizes, The National Society of High School Scholars recognizes academic excellence at the high school level and helps to advance the goals and aspirations of high-achieving students through unique learning experiences, scholarships, internships, international study and peer networks.  NSHSS members become lifetime members.  At each step along the way – from high school to college to career – NSHSS connects outstanding young scholars with the resources they need to develop their strengths and pursue their passions. Currently, there are more than 1,000,000 Society members in 160 countries.  To help us further efforts that provide students with continued opportunity, please acknowledge NSHSS in any press release mentions by providing a resource link to  For more information about NSHSS visit

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