Jack Wilson was named Life Changer of the Year in front of hundreds of students and their parents Thursday evening for his efforts as an automotive service teacher at the Lake County Tech campus and beyond.
Although the event took place during Tech’s annual awards night, when the campus community gathered to celebrate the academic year and honor exemplary students, the news that he had won surprised Wilson.
“Oh, I had no idea,” Wilson said after the ceremony. “I only found out after they started talking about LifeChanger.”
Wilson and 15 others were named LifeChangers out of nearly 600 nominations from K-12 teachers and school staff nationwide. He said he saw on social media that other nominees were accepting their awards so he will know soon that will happen.
Wilson said he’s grateful for the recognition and all the people he’s seen posting good things about him on Facebook in the weeks since his nomination.
“It’s truly amazing for a Tech Campus teacher to be recognized nationally for an award like this,” Lake County Tech Campus Principal Derek Burruss told the crowd at the Grayslake North High School Field House. “It clearly shows that a tech campus really matters and makes a difference every day.”
Winning Wilson will split the $3,000 prize with the Lake County Tech campus.
Sherrod Clear of National Life Group, a life insurance company that offers life-changing years, was about to present the certificate to Wilson. At the end of this award cycle, the award program will provide more than $725,000 to teachers and schools, he said.
Laura Emerling, dean of student services at the Lake County Tech campus, nominated Wilson for the award.
“His leadership and commitment have served to create programs that foster success,” Emmerling said. “We are fortunate to have someone so passionate about making a meaningful difference in the lives of students.”
In addition to teaching students in the school’s workshop the technologies used in auto repair and service shops, Wilson has done extra work to create new opportunities for the students.
Wilson, president of the local teachers union, created an internship program that connects students with local companies. Its Ten Internship training program has provided extended internships and some job offers for participating students, campus officials said.
The Lake County Tech campus is where juniors and seniors from 22 member high schools in Lake and McHenry counties go for job training classes. The campus offers 20 programs in a variety of disciplines, including criminal justice, cosmetology and multimedia design.