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'Everyday Hero' Oriole Park Elementary Teacher Wins National Award

 Erika Wozniak
Erika Wozniak
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Erika Wozniak

NORWOOD PARK — An Oriole Park Elementary School teacher who has directly criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools officials can add a new accomplishment to her resume.


Erika Wozniak, a fifth-grade teacher at the Norwood Park school, 5424 N. Oketo Ave., was given the inaugural "Everyday Hero" award through the American Federation of Teachers.

Wozniak was one of five finalists across the country in the teacher category. The winner was picked by an online vote.

A native of East Grand Rapids, Mich., Wozniak attended "excellent" public schools, which was one of the reasons she felt compelled to teach, according to a commentary she penned for the Tribune.

When Wozniak began her CPS career in 2004 she quickly discovered that the city's public school system lacked resources.

A Chicago Teachers Union delegate, Wozniak has criticized the decision by the Emanuel-appointed Board of Education to privatize janitorial services at some schools as well as the mayor's decision to use $55 million from a Tax Increment Financing District to build a new basketball arena for DePaul University and hotel at McCormick Place.

Wozniak has said DePaul, her alma mater, should hand over naming rights money to CPS students.

In a profile on the union's website, Wozniak is described as "a strategic troublemaker" and quotes a colleague as saying, "She is absolutely unafraid to stand up for the rights of her students and for the future of public education."

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