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OPPY Award Winner 2006, Steve Kotis

Born in Greece, Steve Kotis migrated to Chicago, Illinois at the age of ten. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and his Master’s degree in Special Education. Steve has been teaching at the Northside Learning Center for the past 11 years. Prior to that he taught Special Ed at Spaulding Elementary for 22 years.

Steve has been an outstanding educator of the cognitively and physically handicapped for the Chicago Public Schools for over 35 years. Steve has been awarded numerous grants, including the Service Learning Grant Awards in 2003 & 2004 and Oppenheimer Grants in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Along with teaching, Steve’s lifelong passion is for design and building. A tour of the Northside Learning Center will demonstrate what Steve and his students have constructed with the help of these grants: an outdoor running track, garden gazebo, indoor water fountain, “tunnel of roses” and outdoor mini-nature center/courtyard.

As an educator, Steve’s philosophy is that all individuals have a capacity to learn. He feels it is his duty as a teacher of the cognitively and physically challenged to “bring out the learning” in each of his students. Steve coaches his students at the Special Olympics each year, encouraging his students to reach their highest potential.