’s Teacher of the Year Tara Daniher received her award forin a special round honoring Illinois teachers.
The humble, quiet Mokena resident was awarded her prize—a one-week loan of a General Motors vehicle, a full tank of gas and $500 in gift cards challenging her to keep driving positive change—just after lunch Tuesday as students screamed with excitement for her, many of them holding hand-made signs saying “Congratulations,” and “You’re Our Hero!” cast on DrivingtheMidwest.com.
Daniher’s nominator, Katie Elwood, received a Chevrolet Suburban and a full tank of gas for the week. She says nominating Daniher was her way of putting the shy teacher in the limelight—that she doesn’t normally chase after.
Elwood says Daniher “goes out of her way for everybody, but she never looks for the limelight.” Elwood thought to nominate Daniher after a friend nominated her last year for her efforts organizing
Students at the school had recently gone through a tough time. In addition to making sure the affected kids stayed on-track, Elwood said Daniher made a blanket for a student whose mother passed of cancer. Daniher never asked for anything in return.
“So that’s what a true hero is,” said Elwood, “to be able to go out of your way and do something special and never asking for ‘thanks’ back.”
said Daniher’s passion for teaching children shines through her performance. “She makes sure that the kids get the skill before they move onto the next grade level,” said Bogden.
General Motors launched the Our Town, Our Heroes program in 2011 celebrating unsung heroes who inspire and empower others in their communities. “We wanted to find a way to single out those people who are really doing a lot for their communities, said Fred Ligoure, the Assistant Regional Manager of Communications for General Motors. Each month, the program narrows down the nominations and opens voting of the featured finalists to the public to select the winner.