- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - Three Illinois teachers are in the running for a $1 million prize being dubbed the Nobel Prize for exceptional teaching.

In a news release Monday, the Varkey GEMS Foundation says there are 16 U.S. teachers among the 50 finalists for the “World’s Best Teacher” award.

Among the finalists are Jacqueline Lopushonsky of Wheaton, Mark Vondracek of Gurnee and Paul Solarz of Arlington Heights.

Lopushonsky teaches students with learning disabilities and English language learners at Lincoln Elementary School in Wheaton.

Mark Vondracek teaches at Evanston Township High School. He was previously a runner-up for Illinois Teacher of the Year.

Solarz teaches fifth grade at Westgate Elementary School in Arlington Heights.

The foundation is the philanthropic arm of GEMS Education, a company with schools worldwide. The winner will be announced in March.

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