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Lyons Township High School chefs teacher honored with award

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A cooking teacher with a heart for serving and service has been named the Lyons Township High School Teacher of the Year by Western Springs VFW Post 10778.

Post Cmrd. Mike Winner congratulated Kate Ebner Tuesday as the post’s 2012-13 winner.

Bruce Harken, post adjutant and a member of the committee selecting Ebner, said her background stood out from other nominees.

“She’s a little bit different because of what she does with the food classes and some of the projects she’s instituted here,” Harken said.

Superintendent Tim Kilrea said Ebner is unflappable as she directs the efforts of 15 student chefs preparing a Thanksgiving feast for 90 to 100 senior citizens each November.

Ebner and her students also prepare a special annual meal to honor the bus drivers who serve LT, make custom omelets for the school’s Red Ribbon breakfast in October and create an hors d’oeuvres buffet for the music department and visiting senior citizens in December.

“For 15 students doing all that work, it definitely takes a lot of planning, and they have to have a real passion for it,” Ebner said.

The chefs class teacher also is gearing up for a staff appreciation luncheon for several hundred faculty members in May, sponsored by the LT Parent Teacher Council.

“She’s great, very student-focused,” Kilrea said. “She works with kids of every ability level, meets them where they are and brings them forward. She’s a complete package.”

Ebner, who is in her ninth year at LT, is one of the less senior members of the family and consumer science department, so she readily shifts gears when needed. After teaching the chefs class and international foods in the morning at the north campus in La Grange, she heads to the south campus in Western Springs to teach driver education classes.

“I’ve also taught consumer economics and alternative school,” she said. “It depends on where I’m needed. The change definitely keeps it fresh.”

Ebner majored in consumer and family science education at Olivet Nazarene University, where she returned to earn a master’s degree as a reading specialist. She also earned a master’s degree in administration and supervision from St. Xavier University in Chicago.

But her first love is cooking.

“I’m always taking cooking classes and skills classes, checking out stuff on TV, magazines and books,” Ebner said. “It makes it easy when you love the topic.”

If she has a good chunk of free time, Ebner said she enjoys making her great-grandmother’s recipe for strudel, developed in Budapest.

Ebner said she is pleased with the award’s recognition, as well as the high school’s support for student chefs. Four students have qualified to participate at the top state level of competition March 19 at Kendall College, sponsored by the Family Career and Community Leaders of America. She helps students prepare by trying recipes and working out strategies for the contest.

“It’s a honor to be recognized, particularly from the veterans, who really deserve our thanks,” she said.

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