RANTOUL — A teacher at J.W. Eater Junior High School has been named Illinois Mother of the Year.
Maria McCarthy of Rantoul, an eighth-grade algebra and pre-algebra teacher and mother of two, received the award.
McCarthy's daughter, Patrece McLain, nominated her.
McLain said in her nomination form that her mom always said that she would never be named mother of the year "because she makes fun of her kids."
But, said McLain, McCarthy "does it in a very tactful manner and never does it to upset my brother, Kyle, (age 21) and me (age 18). She only does it when we are around family and we are joking around with each other."
McLain paid her mom perhaps the ultimate compliment when she said when she becomes a mother, she wants to be just like her.
"She works hard to earn her money and support her family," she said. "Even though she struggles sometimes, my mom makes sure to make time in the day to talk to Kyle and me. I have never seen anybody go to work at 7 in the morning and return around 5 o'clock at night, make dinner, finish her lesson plans and still have time to talk to Kyle and me about our days."
McCarthy called receiving the award "a shock."
In addition to being a parent and teacher, McCarthy coaches the Eater eighth-grade volleyball team.
There's no summer break for McCarthy either. During summers, she has worked at the Hap Parker Aquatic Center in Rantoul since 2002, working the front desk and last summer also working the concession area.
McCarthy's philosophy as a mom, she said, is to emulate her parents, whom she called "really great role models."
That philosophy includes "being there for my kids, listening to my kids, talking to my kids, supporting their successes and helping them through their troubles, teaching them values and morals, being their biggest supporter."
McCarthy said being a teacher has also helped by having expectations for her children and having them follow through on those expectations "that they become responsible, independent, caring adults. That's what I want for them."
A Rantoul native, McCarthy, who is 48, became a single mother in 2001 when she and her first husband divorced. She remarried in 2003 to Dave McCarthy, who is a retired teacher.
Dot Beldon, president of the Illinois Association of American Mothers Inc., said McCarthy was selected by judges who reviewed materials submitted by McCarthy and others. The organization was founded in the early 1930s at the urging of J.C. Penney, according to its website, americanmothers.org.
"We were real pleased with her," Beldon said. "She told all about her family and her job and how she felt about being a mother. Just a nice, pleasant way to express herself."
McCarthy will now compete for the national award at the national convention during the first weekend in May in Washington, D.C. She said she is not sure if she will attend due to school commitments.