Urbana science teacher honored with award


URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A teacher at Urbana Middle School is being recognized for their excellence in teaching.

Darienne Ciuro Sanchez is a Dual Language science teacher and was surprised with the Gene Amberg Excellence in Teaching Award from the Champaign-Urbana Schools Foundation during her 7th-grade class on Tuesday.

Sanchez has been at the middle school for over 9 years. Principal Joe Wiemelt says they are “one of the most engaging, imaginative and innovative teachers at UMS.”

The award recognizes a teacher who exemplifies eight traits:

  • Utilizes imaginative approaches to keep students interested
  • Demonstrates a willingness to take the risk of pursuing needed learner solutions in their classroom(s)
  • Recognizes and practices that learning is continuous and mutual
  • Practices the keen sense of criticality of relationships with students
  • Displays qualities of warmth and a caring attitude toward students, colleagues, and parents
  • Communicates effectively with parents, both orally and written
  • Applies the concepts of firm, fair, and friendly in the classroom, and
  • Maintains a sense of humor in dealing with peers, students, and stakeholders.

“I have seen Mx. Sanchez consistently take on new challenges in their classroom in order to strengthen the learning environment for students,” says Wiemelt.

A current colleague says Sanchez is a content leader in the UMS Science Department. 

“Nearly all the materials that Darienne uses need to be translated into Spanish for their students, and original material that they create is translated into English for UMS staff to utilize.” 

“Our classroom knew what was expected and Mx. Sanchez was firm on these expectations and routines, but also showed grace and fairness when students needed it most,” says a former student.

Sanchez will receive a monetary award for three consecutive years to recognize their accomplishments. Urbana Middle School will receive a portion of the award as well, as the school where they teach.

“It’s any teacher’s dream to be recognized, but I owe this award to a lot of people,” shares Sanchez. “It’s not a single award. It’s a lot of teamwork. The Dual Language Program has an excellent team and the team works as a unit to make sure everything is successful in that program.”

The first Amberg Excellence in Teaching Award was given in 2006. Sanchez is the sixth recipient.

The award is named for Dr. Gene Amberg (Ph.D.) who began his career in public education in 1972 as an elementary school teacher in St. Louis, Missouri. He was named superintendent of Urbana School District in 1992. In 2003, the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation Gene Amberg Excellence in Teaching Endowed Chair was established to honor Dr. Amberg’s leadership and dedication to children and educators throughout his career. Professional colleagues, friends, and family continue to contribute to this endowment, to be presented to an Urbana School District teacher every three years for excellence in teaching.

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