Catherine Dunaway, a senior kindergarten teacher at Field-Stevenson was honored as this year’s teacher of the year for the Chicago area by Wal-Mart last Friday, April 22, at a ceremony at the local Wal-Mart, 1300 Desplaines Ave.

At hand for the ceremony were Wal-Mart representatives and District 91 School Board President Marilyn Garapolo.

“I was surprised and honored,” Dunaway said, adding that she didn’t even know she was being considered until a morning meeting the day before.

Dunaway has been a teacher at District 91 for 29 years, beginning at Betsy Ross as a first grade teacher, then moving to Grant-White and, finally, working as an English as a Second Language instructor in the district, before taking a position at Field-Stevenson.

Last year, the award went to a Chicago teacher, said Major Reed, the photo center manager at Wal-Mart, who is in charge of the community involvement program for the Wal-Mart store in the area.

“We visit the schools and talk to the principals,” he said. “the principal picks a teacher and we submit it to the Wal-Mart Foundation.”

Dunaway received a gift card from Wal-Mart and the school received a $1,000 grant.

“I could have nominated so many people on the staff and Cathy has done so many things for the district,” said Robert Giovannoni, principal at Field-Stevenson. “She is an extraordinarily talented person who does whatever she can to get her kids to succeed and enjoys doing it.”

Likewise, Randolph Tinder, superintendent for the district said Dunaway was an excellent choice for the award.

“She is a veteran teacher and has done an excellent job at everything she has done,” he said. “She is a career teacher who makes everybody in the profession look good.”

“It is very exciting that Wal-Mart acknowledged what we do in our community,” Garapolo said. “Teaching is a test of patience and this really acknowledges her for her commitment to make a difference in kid’s lives.”

Last year, Wal-Mart gave out $25,000 to the local community. Also honored at the ceremony was the PCC Community Wellness Center’s West Side Miracle Program, which received $500 towards its community service program.