DeKALB – To her colleagues, Cindy Lofthouse comes from a place of compassion.
“She just creates opportunities for students to be successful,” said Ann Shult, a DeKalb High School science teacher who works with Lofthouse.
Lofthouse, an instructional coach at the school, is the 2013 winner of DeKalb School District 428’s Wirtz Award, which is presented to one District 428 teacher each year for their work.
As an instructional coach, Lofthouse works with teachers at the high school to develop better literary strategies and lesson models to make learning easier. Shult said Lofthouse will observe new lesson plans or teaching methods she’s trying out.
“It’s nice to have another set of eyes,” Shult said. Shult, along with Amy Barnes, another instructional coach, nominated Lofthouse for the Wirtz Award.
In addition to her duties as an instructional coach, Lofthouse has been a coach, is the co-vice president of the teacher’s union, and the co-chairwoman of the teacher evaluation committee.
“It’s nice that your peers recognize the ways you try to help the district and help our students learn,” Lofthouse said.
Apart from a couple of years in Hinsdale, Lofthouse has spent most of her life living and teaching in DeKalb. Her parents were teachers, and she is an alumna of both DeKalb High School and Northern Illinois University.
“I think the DeKalb community has a lot to offer families, so we raised our children here,” Lofthouse said. “Over the years, I like the fact that the DeKalb School District has tried to be progressive, put students first. My own kids graduated from DeKalb High School.”
On the same day she learned she’d won the award, DeKalb High School was named among the top 10 percent of high schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Lofthouse said she was struck by this timing.
“To me, what this says is that, as a district, there are a lot of teachers and administrators who work really hard to improve learning for our students,” she said.
Lofthouse plans to retire in three years.