Position: Preschool Teacher
School: Lincoln Early Learning Center
School District: Fremont School District 79
City, State: Mundelein, Illinois
About the Nominee: Patti Olsem was nominated by her principal, Carol Bennett. Ms. Olsem has been working in Fremont School District 79 for four years. She teaches an At-Risk Program funded through a grant from the state of Illinois. Students qualify for this program based on a variety of at-risk factors.
Last school year, Fremont entered into a shared agreement with Mundelein School District and Hawthorn School District to create an Early Learning Center at Lincoln School in Mundelein. Ms. Olsem was the veteran member of the Fremont Team, which includes only 15 staff members. She mentored three new teachers as they adjusted to a new setting and new team all while this was a fairly new district for herself. Ms. Olsem emerged as a leader for her team and district by keeping up-to-date with preschool standards and new strategies, as well as supporting parents. She is creative, engaging, warm and welcoming, and she truly prepares students for kindergarten in all areas, from cognitive and social-emotional skills to fine and gross motor, language and behavioral skills.
Ms. Olsem embraces students and challenges them while setting an example of showing kindness, respect and patience. She has been the rock of the Fremont team and has helped them unite with the other two districts. Her kind approach and willingness to adapt to each child's individual needs truly embodies an exceptional teacher who sets the tone for the rest of each child's educational experience.