Midlock, Witmer honored with Great Teacher Awards

Jason Midlock (from left), JCA Principal/CEO Jeff Budz and Deb Witmer pose after Midlock and Witmer were honored with Great Teacher Awards.

JOLIET – After playing football for state championship teams in 2000 and 2001, Jason Midlock went to college. But even then, he always knew he wanted to return to his alma mater, Joliet Catholic Academy.

And he also knew why.

“It’s how the people care,” Midlock said. “It’s more of a family at JCA. For the students and for the faculty and staff, it’s not just sit down in a class, the bell rings and get out. The people care about you.”

That caring in the classroom carried both Midlock and Deb Witmer to the top as the pair of JCA educators were among 17 area teachers honored on March 15 at the Jacob Henry Mansion with the Joliet Area Great Teachers Award from the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Witmer, a Plainfield resident, is in her sixth year at JCA. She teaches AP biology and AP chemistry, regular biology and chemistry, and is the senior class moderator and AdvancEd Accreditation co-chair.

A graduate of the University of North Florida, Witmer has been working toward her Master’s degree from Purdue and teaches summer school at Northwestern, concentrating on biology and chemistry.

“It’s very exciting,” Witmer said. “I had no idea the scope of this award, but seeing all the teachers and hearing all the accolades, it was an amazing night. And it shows we’re doing something right at JCA.

“And one of the things I thought was nice was having somebody you knew and somebody you could share these things with in Jason. We didn’t have one teacher honored, we had two, which is cool.”

Midlock, also a Plainfield resident, teaches AP European history, AP U.S. history and world history. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Lewis, his Master’s from St. Francis, and is in his third year at JCA.

Jeff Budz, JCA’s Principal/CEO, spoke as a presenter at the banquet in recognizing Midlock and Witmer.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” Midlock said. “It’s inspiring to be among those great teachers. Jeff gave a great speech about both Deb and me, so it was very nice and it was very humbling as well.”

Stephanie (Etheridge ’03) Renderman, a JCA graduate with a bachelor’s from Millikin and a Master’s from St. Francis, also was honored. She teaches fourth grade at Pershing Elementary School in Joliet.

To Witmer, the award was special. But the reward of the entire experience came from the process.

“What was interesting to me was I found out by listening that you are not nominated by your principal,” Witmer said. “You are nominated by a student, parent or community member. I think that is much more of a direct reflection of what we are doing here at JCA and how it impacts our students every day.”

— Bill Scheibe, Director of Communications

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