Three individuals from IHSA schools were among those honored recently by the NFHS for their outstanding work in the Performing Arts, including Harvard High School Director of Bands Korey Coffer, Glenwood High School head speech and debate coach Kenneth Carter, and retired Homewood-Flossmoor High School Speech/Debate and Theatre adviser Janine Stroemer.
A total of 56 individuals have been selected to receive Outstanding Performing Arts Educator Awards from the NFHS, including 24 with Outstanding Music Educator Awards, 20 with Outstanding Speech and Debate Educator Awards and 12 with Outstanding Theatre Awards.
The 24 music honorees include seven section recipients and 17 state recipients. Eight individuals are receiving section awards in speech and debate and 12 will be honored with state awards. In the first-ever theatre awards being given, there are six section and six state recipients.
Since 1988 when the first Outstanding Speech/Debate/Theatre Educator Awards were presented, 246 individuals have received section awards and 400 have been honored with state awards. The Outstanding Music Educator Awards began a year later in 1989, and 206 individuals have received section awards and another 379 have been honored with state awards. The Outstanding Theatre Award was given for the first time this year, separating it from the Outstanding Speech/Debate Educator Award, with six section and six state awards presented.
A bio from the NFHS is provided on each of the Illinois honorees below:
Outstanding Theatre Educator Awards - Section 4
Janine Stroemer – Matteson, Illinois
While being a part of both Speech/Debate and Theatre, Janine Stroemer continuously helps students grow their creative abilities. Under her tutelage, Homewood-Flossmoor High School has had six individual champions, thirty state finalists, and hundreds of students who have competed at IHSA speech and drama competitions annually. She has had eleven top five finishes at the IHSA state drama festival, with two state champions within that time frame, while also directing numerous all-state cast members.
As a highly involved individual, Stroemer continues to work closely with the Illinois Communication and Theater Association, serving in a variety of roles including President, Vice President, and Conference Presenter. She has also worked tirelessly with the Southwest Suburban Conference (SWSC) Group Interpretation Competition, tallying sixteen awards in as many years. A total of seventy-two students have earned All-State cast honors under her instruction at the IHSA Group Interpretation State Finals.
With over thirty years of dependable instruction, Stroemer has received the Illinois High School Association John Hires Service Award, the Illinois Communication and Theater Association Link Mentor Award, and Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching Nominations in 2004 and 2016.
Outstanding Music Educator Awards
Korey Coffer, Harvard High School
As the Director of Bands at Harvard High School, Korey Coffer actively serves within his school and state, as an adjudicator for the Indiana State School Music Association and the Illinois Grade School Music Association. He received National Board Certification in 2016 and recently successfully completed his Doctorate of Education.
Outstanding Speech and Debate Educator Awards - Section 4
Kenneth Carter – Chatham, Illinois
Kenneth Carter is an English teacher and head speech and debate coach at Glenwood High School – a position he has held since 1994. While being highly connected to the speech and debate, he has been able to coach hundreds of students throughout his career and has been a mentor for new coaches at various central Illinois schools.
He has been awarded Teacher of the Month twice, the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Distinguished Service Gold Key, Co-Coach of the Year for the Egyptian Forensic League in 2013, and received the Ball-Chatham CUSD #5 Excellence in Education Award. His accomplishments do not stop there, however, as he has seen his students find their voice in speech and debate over the years.
As Carter has committed time and effort into the dynamic speech and debate programs he’s coached, his students have received significant awards while participating. His teams have had top five finishes and champion award winners, have qualified in IE and Group Interpretation including three competitors who placed in the State final round, and have qualified for the NSDA National Tournament for the past seven seasons with three semi-round finalists. In 2013, his team received the IHSA State Sportsmanship Banner for Group Interpretation.
Carter has also strived to be an aide in every role he has been in. Whether that be as a volunteer coordinator or committee member for the IHSA State Tournament, or as Commissioner and Vice-Chair for the Special Commission on Tournaments, Individual Events (SCOTIE) for the Illinois Communication and Theatre Association (ICTA), Carter has a passion for speech and debate. Currently, Carter serves as Treasurer for the ICTA.