Veteran Oak Park and River Forest High School special education teacher Therese Brennock was recently named the recipient of Rush University Medical Center’s 2019 Thonar Award.
The award “is given each year to a person who has made outstanding contributions to the Rush community and enabled the institution to further its commitment of offering opportunities to individuals who are determined to turn a disability into a possibility,” according to Rush’s website.
Brennock is the first person from the service area of Rush’s Oak Park campus to receive the annual award since it was conceived in 1991.
In 1995, Brennock helped create a work-study program at Rush Oak Park Hospital for high school students with social-emotional disabilities, according to a statement released by District 200. The program has since evolved to serve young adults who are enrolled in OPRF’s Community-Integrated Transition Program, also known as CITE.
Brennock is technically retired (having taught and led within OPRF’s special education department for 34 years). In her semi-retirment, she doubles as a job coach in the morning for Rush and a teaching assistant in the afternoon.
“Therese has an uncanny ability to quickly connect with our most vulnerable students, and teach them necessary independent living skills while empowering them,” Amy Stanis, CITE’s program supervisor. “The students confide in Therese, when they can confide in no one else. She is a true leader for her students.”