Villa Grove social studies teacher Kyle Osborne has been recognized as the state's Smart/Maher VFW Citizenship Education Teacher Award winner for the high school level.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars annually recognizes the nation's top classroom elementary, junior high and high school teachers who teach citizenship education topics and regularly promote America's history and traditions effectively.
"Mr. Osborne is a wonderful teacher. He has impacted hundreds of young lives with his dedication and knowledge," said District Superintendent Mary Ann Manos, who nominated him. "He has used several long-term projects to show students how important and valuable their freedom is. "
Osborne, who has taught history, current events and geography classes in Villa Grove since 1997, has involved students in many civic projects, including voter registration and working as election judges at local polling places; oral history work with local World War II veterans; and taking them to meet with state lawmakers.
Osborne was selected as the local nominee by Walter Jones Post 2876, in Villa Grove. He went on to win the nomination from VFW District 17 in Charleston and was notified last week of being named the Illinois honoree for the high school level.
Osborne has a strong family history of civic duty. His father, Paul Osborne, served as mayor of Decatur and an older brother has served in the U.S. Army for 25 years. Osborne says seeing the sacrifices made by his family gave him a deep respect for soldiers and veterans.
"I have a soft spot in my heart for the veterans in our community," he said. "To be honored by them is one of the biggest honors I can think of. I spend a lot of time trying to honor them and their sacrifices and now they are giving an honor to me."
Osborne now becomes eligible for the National Citizenship Education Teacher awards. Winners will be awarded a $1,000 for professional development, $1,000 for their school and an all-expense-paid trip to the VFW National Convention.