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2022 Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award Recipients

Chris Buckner

Chris Buckner

Chris Buckner has taught at Oley Valley High School in Oley, Pennsylvania, since 2005. Creator of the school’s STEM engineering program and the program’s community-based advisory panel, he teaches courses in engineering, computer science, architecture, and design.

Buckner introduced computer numerical control programming into the school’s manufacturing curriculum and secured grants for integrating 3-D printers into area K–12 classrooms. He also founded Oley Valley High School’s Technology Students Association chapter, which has produced multiple statewide winners and sent three students to the TSA national competition. Through his efforts, the school’s engineering program is now a state-approved career technology education program. Student nominator Shannon Lackey of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science is the first student from her high school to attend Northwestern, and she attributes this directly to Buckner, saying that he is “singlehandedly the reason I am the engineer I am today.”

Educated in Pennsylvania, Buckner earned a BS in technology education and engineering at Millersville University in Millersville and an MS in 21st-century teaching and learning at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre.

Lidia Ortiz

Lidia Ortiz has taught science since 2001 at Chicago’s Northside College Preparatory High School, where she has chaired the science department since 2009. She teaches advanced courses in biology and chemistry, including interdisciplinary experiential-learning courses that she has created and implemented. A 2018–20 teacher fellow in the University of Chicago’s EYES on Cancer Research Fellowship Program, Ortiz has given presentations for University of Chicago Medicine’s Summer Cancer Research Symposiums. She has also held sustainability and teaching fellowships in Michigan State University’s Wipro STEM and Leadership Fellowship Program. A contributor to two books on STEM education and a five-time Golden Apple Award nominee, Ortiz has received two prior student-nominated Outstanding Teacher Awards from the University of Chicago.

She achieved National Board Certification in 2007 and was recertified in 2016. Student nominator Xanh Quang of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences says that none of his subsequent teachers “has quite reached the pure expertise and perfect balance of Lidia Ortiz,” adding that Northside College Prep “is very lucky to have her.” Ortiz received a BS in biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MEd in secondary science from DePaul University

Lidia Ortiz
Shanté Reed

Shanté Reed

Shanté Reed has taught since 2010 on the faculty of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, where she teaches courses in English and creative writing. She has also served as one of the school’s racial equity facilitators and as supervising teacher for teacher candidates. In 2015 Reed was the first to teach an introductory African American Studies course as a teaching specialist in the University of Minnesota’s College in the Schools program, for which she helped develop and lead that year’s summer study abroad program in Brazil. She has furthered her professional development through workshops with the University of Minnesota’s African American and African Studies department and College Board workshops on Advanced Placement Language and Composition, a course she taught at DeLaSalle for five years.

Reed won her school’s 2011 LaSallian Educator of the Year Award and its 2019 Liemandt Excellence in Teaching Award. Student nominator Karina Karbo-Wright of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences says that at DeLaSalle, Reed was “the teacher everyone wanted because she was super cool and really smart,” adding that “her impact is still with me today.” Reed earned a BA in African American Studies and English at the University of Minnesota and an MA in teaching at the University of St. Thomas.

David Ross

David Ross has served since 1993 on the social studies faculty at Madison West High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where he has taught and created curriculums for courses in history, philosophy, psychology, and social issues as well as an after-school elective on multicultural society. He has accepted student requests to serve as adviser to eight school clubs, including the Debate Club, the Philosophy Club, and Amnesty International. Previously he taught for four years in Madison West’s night-school diploma completion program, and for three summers he taught credit-recovery programs at Madison East High School. From 1999 to 2013 he also served as coordinator for the Social Studies Teacher Education Program in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s curriculum and instruction department.

Ross received the 1991 Second Congressional District Outstanding Teacher Award and has won prior student-nominated Outstanding Teacher Awards from Lawrence University and twice from the University of Chicago. Student nominator Aurora Greane of the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science praises Ross as “a dedicated educator even outside the classroom” who vividly demonstrates “the value of excellent pedagogical techniques.” Ross earned a BA in history and a Teacher Education Program certificate at UW–Madison.

David Ross
Nilda Villalta del Valle

Nilda Villalta del Valle

Nilda Villalta del Valle has taught Spanish courses since 2004 at National Cathedral School in Washington, DC, where she has also chaired the world languages department since 2012.

A 2001 Humanities Rockefeller Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, she subsequently served as project coordinator for its Folklife Festival’s Latino music program. Villalta has participated in numerous professional development workshops and has presented papers at national and international conferences. She was the 2013 winner of National Cathedral School’s Class of 2004 Teaching Award. Student nominator Emmeline Leggett of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences calls her “one of the most genuine, thoughtful, and strong people I have ever encountered,” a teacher who “made her students feel valued, giving special attention to those she noticed needed it the most.”

Villalta received a licenciatura in Spanish language
and literature and a teaching degree in Spanish literature and grammar from El Salvador’s Jesuit
Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, a BA in speech communication and Spanish and an MA in Spanish language and literature from Louisiana State University, and a PhD in contemporary Latino and Latin American literature and culture from the University of Maryland.