Schurz Coach Named Teacher of the Year by State Board of Education

Kevin Rutter, economics teacher and coach of the Schurz High School debate team, is Illinois' Teacher of the Year in 2010.

Kevin Rutter, Debate Coach and Economics teacher at Carl Schurz High School was named 2009 Illinois Teacher of the Year by the Illinois State Board of Education. He was selected for the award from 10 finalists and 175 nominees statewide. Finalists are interviewed and videotaped, and principals, parents and students submit letters on behalf of candidates.

Mr. Rutter has directed the debate program at Schurz since 2004, when he co-founded it with Kathryn O’Day. “I have been truly blessed to work with some great people in the league, both students and staff, and hope to continue to bring policy debate to Schurz HS in the years to come,” Rutter notes.

“Debate is the most challenging of academic pursuits and promotes all of the skill sets I believe to be vital for future success including organization, public speaking, teamwork, research and listening, to name a few. Additionally, I have seen this activity have a profound effect on increasing student assertiveness and overall confidence,” Rutter explains.

Current Schurz debater, Aaron Feinhandler had this to say about his coach. “Why are connections to debate so strong at Schurz? Because Mr. Rutter created an environment for all his students in which they feel a certain atmosphere: fun, friendly, and always educating. His character is what has made our debate team what it is today.”

Beyond coaching debate, Mr. Rutter instructs students about financial literacy through his economics classes, which helps them find internships and jobs — skills that are increasingly important in today’s economic climate. These qualities, combined with the benefits of interscholastic debate, provide the students of Carl Schurz with excellent opportunities for personal development and ability to face the world after graduation.

Rutter’s involvement with the Schurz debate program is an asset not only to his students, but also the entire Chicago Debate League. Les Lynn, Executive Director of the Chicago Debate Commission, noted, “Kevin has propelled the Schurz debate team into success in the Local Circuit Conference and organizes a wide network of very involved alumni at Schurz. Not only that, he plays an active role in League-wide events such as last spring’s Public Debates on Energy, which Schurz won.”

“Kevin’s enthusiasm for teaching really shines through and sets him apart,” said State Superintendent of Education, Christopher A. Koch, as reported on the ISBE Web site. “He is dedicated to helping his students succeed both academically and in their extra-curricular pursuits.”

Imrose Krauser, is one of those former debaters who returns to help coach the Schurz team. She reflected, “Mr. Rutter made me appreciate that a coach or a teacher being there to guide debaters or students always serves as a motivation in their life. This is what I base my own coaching principles on. Seeing his dedication to his job is what inspires me to be a better coach. He does the work of ten people in managing the Academy of Finance, and yet he still keeps up-to-date with debate meets, tournaments and coaching meetings. Teacher of the Year is a well-deserved title for him.”