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U-46 Recognizes Top Two Percent of Graduating Seniors; ‘Accent on Achievement’ Awarded to Staff Nominated for Kane County Educator of the Year

May 5, 2022

The School District U-46 Board of Education Monday will host the Top Two Percent ceremony at South Elgin High School to honor the  academic success and accomplishments of graduating seniors. The students are the top-achieving graduates from the District’s five comprehensive high schools and are featured on the U-46 website in the District’s Class of 2022 section

Juan Figueroa at Reception

Also Monday, May 9, the Board of Education will recognize Elgin High School’s Juan Figueroa, who received the Regional Superintendent Award during the Kane County Regional Office of Education’s annual Kane County Educator of the Year awards banquet on April 29, as well as three other nominees from U-46.  

Figueroa teaches college-level Dual Credit courses in Spanish in addition to Spanish Language Arts for EHS students in the Dual Language program. 

“Mr. Figueroa's dedication to our students and school community is an example of excellence for our profession,” said EHS Principal Jamie Crosen.

Teaching is Figueroa’s second career; he had worked in the banking industry for more than 25 years when the Great Recession hit, and he decided to change careers to teaching, earning a master’s degree in education and special education and a bilingual/ESL certificate. He has taught in U-46 since 2009, first at Channing Elementary, then at Ellis Middle School, and then at EHS starting in 2017.  

Figueroa said he strives to create a classroom that is a safe learning space for students where they can develop a sense of community, express themselves, and learn to embrace the differences of others. 

“I use teaching strategies that encourage students to contribute with what they bring and in the way they can. My role as the teacher is to assist each student in developing their own potential,” he said. “I promote a curriculum that incorporates different learning styles, as well as make the content relevant to the students' lives.”

The Kane County Regional Office of Education hosts the annual award ceremony to recognize and celebrate educators within the region. School districts, staff, and administrators nominate exceptional individuals who demonstrate a love for learning and a commitment to education. The April 29 event marked the 46th Kane County Educator of the Year banquet. 

Three other educators for U-46 were nominated for an Educator of the Year award. Along with Figueroa, they will be recognized with an “Accent on Achievement” certificate during the 6 p.m. special Board meeting in the auditorium at South Elgin High School, 760 E. Main Street, South Elgin. 

They are: 

  • Faviola Ximena Escobar, a Dual Language teacher of Spanish Language Arts and Social Studies at Larsen Middle School in Elgin, who was nominated in the Middle School Teacher Category 
  • Dr. Steve Tucker, Assistant Principal at South Elgin High School, who was nominated in the Administrator Category 
  • Sandy Ritter, a special education teacher at Tefft Middle School in Streamwood, who was nominated in the Middle School Teacher Category 

Educator of the Year 2022 Reception
Following the awarding of an Accent on Achievement to the four teachers, the Board of Education will honor the students who have finished in the top two percent of their graduating class.

"Congratulations to our top two percent of the class of 2022," said Superintendent Dr. Tony Sanders. "We are proud of their dedication to academic achievement.” 

The top two percent of graduating seniors are as follows:

Bartlett High School

Agilan Gunashankar

Anthony Martin

Asmita Shah

Carter Eid

Desiree Oliveros

Evan Bulatek

Jillian Murdoch

Lorenzo Marasigan

Marcos Sanson

Ronit Nagarapu


Elgin High School

Yahya Arastu

Nicole Babiarz

Shweta Dhar

Sarah Erickson

Emily Flores

Sofia Heinrich

Abby Joyce

Maia Lesniak

Michelle Maslon

Vanessa Medrano

Angeline Nato

Jenny Nguyen

Alejandra Rodriguez-Garcia


Larkin High School

Jackson Baker

Ximena Bermudez

Alberto Bonilla

Emma Hahn

Lilah Hanson

Joana Hernandez

Sarah Leardi

Leah Mack

Ella Nail

Alejandro Ramirez

Luca Tendy

Jordan Vopat


South Elgin High School

Abigail Choi

Anna Creagan

Ashlin Lee

Caroline Croft

Ella Winterhalder

Emma Hunter

Gino Santini

Liliana Ernandez

Loreal Wilson

Michael Walczuk

Rachel McClow

Salvi Patel

Yuri You


Streamwood High School

HeeRan Yang

Jennifer Voravong

Joshua Manzano

Kaitlyn Esteban

Katelyn Nguyen

Kayla Ticherafi

Mishael Mazhar

Vanessa Pitsenbarger

Monday’s Board of Education meeting will also be streamed live on the District’s YouTube channel