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2011 Bill Ellis Award Winner

Karin Lewis, Reading Specialist
Hill Elementary School
West Aurora, IL

Karin Lewis exemplifies the value that Bill Ellis placed on schools as vibrant learning communities. A 20-year veteran of the education field, Karin began her career as a classroom teacher in New Hampshire. After completing her M.Ed. at Notre Dame College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Karin shifted her focus to specialize in providing a wide range of reading interventions for K-5 students as a Reading Specialist. In 2001, Karin moved to Illinois with her family and worked in the LaGrange and St. Charles districts before landing in her current role at Hill Elementary School in West Aurora.

Karin Lewis receives the 2011 Bill Ellis Award from
NCLD Board member, Drake D. Duane, M.D.
Karin has been a proactive and powerful force for improvement in each of her school communities. Working closely with Dr. Susan Hall and others, Karin was instrumental in the successful implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI) practices at Hill Elementary that have led to a strengthening of core curricula, highly engaged parents, well-informed and skilled educators, and a school community that feeds on data to serve all learners.

“Here at Hill Elementary we are committed to daily, uninterrupted reading instruction, collecting and analyzing data, facilitating dialogue in a process that involves all faculty and includes parents, and taking steps to meet students at their academic level, providing differentiated instruction to help each student realize his or her own learning potential. And the person who is in the trenches, making this happen, is Karin,” says Cindy Larry, principal of Hill Elementary School.

Karin describes teaching as “both an art and a science” where problem solving is key to serving struggling learners. She explains that while not every program or intervention will be the answer for all students, the key is to keep collecting and using data to inform new and innovative approaches.

Karin’s belief in the power of data-driven, differentiated instruction is evident in all of her work as a Reading Specialist. In addition to working with at-risk students, her responsibilities include coaching and mentoring teachers, facilitating grade-level data meetings, training reading paraprofessionals and presenting literacy workshops for parents.