the Madeleine Maraldi Awards

for Teaching Excellence

Solorio Academy High School Nominees & Administration

  • Kaley Jowers

    Ms. Jowers is committed to ensuring that all student have access to grade-level, rigorous English Language Arts instruction. During weekly grade-level meetings, she analyzes data, identifies student needs, and discusses plans for next steps in instructional approach. Students that struggle elsewhere, often find success with Ms. Jowers.  She designs performance tasks that are applicable to the real-world, such as mock Congressional hearings, to measure student mastery of the CCSS skills. She also collaborates with members of other subject areas to help students transfer their learning. Moreover, Ms. Jowers engages students in complex tasks aligned to CCSS, such as synthesis writing, research writing, and student-led discussions. She has led several professional development sessions to assist teachers in grasping the CCSS shifts around text sets and complex text along with the engageAUSL modules. In her role as a data coach and A-team member, she helps her peers to identify areas of success and growth and design adaptive teaching plans to ensure student mastery. Ms. Jowers is an active member of the Restorative Justice network in Chicago, advocating for and designing disciplinary practices that improve student-teacher relationships, school culture, and student behavior. She is also a member of the Educational Board for the Chicago Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights, and she coaches the junior varsity Girls' volleyball team where she works to build and grow the foundational skills required to play competitively at the varsity level.

  • Timothy Nystrand

    Mr. Nystrand is an ambitious instructor that sets high goals for both students and himself. Mr. Nystrand has collaborated in the crafting of NGSS and CCSS aligned physics and chemistry curricula for Solorio which has been widely implemented throughout the AUSL network. Mr. Nystrand's instruction focuses on rigorous disciplinary literacy and essential content learning. His classes are rich with texts, and students read, write, and revise frequently. Mr. Nystrand also has been an instructional leader for Solorio and AUSL, having served as an instructional coach, data coach, A-Team member, and AUSL mentor. As an A-Team member, Mr. Nystrand helped to develop and implement the interim exams used for the last two years, as well as the reflection and adaptive teaching systems that complement them. In his capacity as an instructional coach and mentor, Mr. Nystrand has guided teachers in planning, content instruction, classroom management, and culturally and linguistically responsive teaching. Mr. Nystrand also is a 2-year member of AUSL's Secondary Science PLC and has helped develop NGSS and CCSS aligned units taught throughout the network. Moreover, Mr. Nystrand is committed to his personal development as an educator: he is both a Stanford University Hollyhock Fellow and a University of Illinois-Chicago Project MASTEL Fellow. At Stanford, Mr. Nystrand has worked in a school-based team to improve equity for all students at Solorio, as well as develop science content-instruction focused on CCSS literacy. At UIC, Mr. Nystrand has recently completed his coursework needed for his Bilingual/ESL endorsement. Bilingual education is a passion of Mr. Nystrand's, and he currently supports many of Solorio's English Learners both in his classrooms, and in after school ACT tutoring. Mr. Nystrand is also a OneGoal program director, and in this capacity has led 19 of his 30 fellows to improve their college selectivity by at least one level in only the first semester of the program. Finally, Mr. Nystrand is also dedicated to athletics at Solorio, serving for his second year as a JV Baseball coach and having been the recipient of the 2014-15 Koldyke Award for Solorio athletic supporter of the year.

  • Diana Black

    Ms. Black is an instrumental leader in her department.  She is committed to providing rigorous instruction and pushing her own, as well as her team's learning.  She is firm believer that her own professional growth filters into her instructional practices and student growth.  Ms. Black has taken the lead in the Math Department's Cluster work around Vertical Alignment and the CCSS.  As a result of this work, the Math Department has backwards mapped curriculum so that it more closely aligns to AP expectations and CCSS standards.  She has pioneered the work around implementation of the Algebra II Engage NY curriculum and has begun the push in the Department to begin diving into and becoming familiar with the thinking expected of students to be successful at this level.  Ms. Black is a calming, but strong presence in the classroom.  Her students appreciate the instructional pushes and supports they receive in her classroom as well as her ability to balance a quiet/strict classroom setting.

  • Amy Stuenkel (not pictured)

    Ms. Stuenkel is committed to providing engaging and relevant mathematics instruction with an emphasis on conceptual understanding to students with a variety of ability levels and individual needs. This year, she implemented a CCSS-aligned intervention curriculum to low-performing students utilizing engageAUSL materials, which resulted in some of the highest gains the curriculum has ever seen. Ms. Stuenkel collaborates daily with her co-planning partners to share best practices and develop engaging and relevant lesson plans. She also meets with her department weekly to discuss vertical alignment and share common assessments. Ms. Stuenkel has participated in critical thinking cluster teams, served as a mentor teacher, and currently acts as the math department's A TEAM lead as well as data coach. She is always willing to share or help which makes her a real leader in the math department, and the school. Students love being in her class and they’re lucky to have her.

  • Victor Iturralde, Principal

    Cesar Balcazar and Katie Patton, AP's

    Solorio Academy High School leadership team along side teacher leaders strive to create a challenging learning environment that encourages high expectations for success through developmentally appropriate instruction that allows for individual differences and learning styles for staff and students. With piloting engageAUSL, Solorio teachers and administration committed to providing academic and social excellence in a positive and supportive culture.  Critical Thinking is the core of their Professional Development plan developed based upon the core beliefs that students benefit when all teachers implement what they have learned in PD in a coordinated effort.  Being rated the #1 high school in Illinois that exceeds expectations is a testament to not only the work that has been done at Solorio but evidence that the model for school excellence works—when you staff a school with highly trained teachers, you can transform the lives of students! 38% of Solorio’s staff are former AUSL residents. Principal Victor Iturralde leads a team of driven leaders and teachers dedicated to student success in and out of the classroom.