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GLSEN to Honor Illinois School Counselor as...


Andy Marra

Public Relations Manager



May 07, 2013

NEW YORK - On National Teacher Appreciation Day, GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) is proud to announce the selection of Matthew Beck as the 2013 Educator of the Year, presented by Sodexo. Beck is a school counselor at Erie Elementary School in Erie, Illinois.

The Educator of the Year award recognizes an exceptional education professional who has enriched his or her community by ensuring that all students, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, are safe from bullying and harassment. The award honors an educator who works not only to ensure safety, but impacts measurable change that is visible within that person's school district and community.

"As a professional school counselor who embraces children for who they are, I am thankful and honored to highlight our present and future work towards ensuring that all our students feel safe, secure, and welcomed," said Matthew Beck. "GLSEN's Educator of the Year award inspires me to lead educational conversations about respect and to prepare school communities to be the advocate and role model that all students deserve. I am proud and honored to work alongside Erie educators who model perseverance and hope to all youth when handling setbacks in life and ensuring children come first."

In 2012, the Erie Community Unit School District school board banned elementary school resources that teach respect for all families and address anti-LGBT name-calling. The district went further and banned GLSEN materials including programs like No Name-Calling Week, endorsed by more than 50 national education and youth organizations, and "Ready, Set Respect!," an elementary school toolkit created in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

"In our efforts to ensure that every school is a safe learning environment for all students, GLSEN relies a great deal on the commitment and partnership of local educators," said Dr. Robert McGarry, GLSEN's Director of Education. "Matthew's story reminds us of how incredibly challenging the work of these partners can be in many places. As we recognize Matthew as our Educator of the Year, we not only celebrate his commitment and perseverance in doing what's best for his students, but we thank him for being such a steadfast partner in our work."

Beck has been a leader in his elementary school and local community to ensure the availability of resources and support for students, parents and educators during challenging times in the school district.

In the past year, Beck helped his elementary school to continue its participation in GLSEN's No Name-Calling Week. Beck also succeeded in securing developmentally appropriate family diversity resources for the school's counseling office.

Beck also created a family reading night outside of the school to further engage the school community. The activity was designed to offer children the opportunity to share in reading and discussing developmentally appropriate LGBT family-inclusive books.

GLSEN is also proud to announce that Tony Venetico from Barrington High School in Barrington, Illinois is the runner-up for the 2013 Educator of the Year award. A graduate of Barrington High School, Venetico is a high school math teacher and faculty advisor of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). Venetico has developed materials for his school to raise awareness about creating a safer climate for all students and has supported the GSA's participation in the National Day of Silence.



GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit