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Woodstock High School teacher retires to join McHenry County environmental group

Bill Donato
Bill Donato

WOODSTOCK – A longtime Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 teacher, with a propensity for projects intersecting conservation and education, is leaving after three decades and has plans to take on a fitting new role.

Bill Donato, 56, of Woodstock, has retired from the district after teaching high school science at Woodstock High School for 30 years. Before that, he taught middle school in Houston, Texas.

After reflecting on the various projects and activities he organized for students during his time with District 200, Donato said he’s headed to the McHenry County School Environmental Education Program, where he will serve as the new, part-time director.

“It used to be just recycling lessons, mainly in elementary school, but now they have a whole, comprehensive [kindergarten] through ninth-grade environmental education, and I want to expand that more into high schools,” Donato said.

Run through the county, MCSEEP provides lessons and events at McHenry County schools to educate students and community members about ways to decrease their carbon footprint and to be better stewards of the planet.

Donato has initiated numerous projects revolving around topics he taught in his time as a high school teacher.

In January, a 30-acre span of land west of the high school was named the William C. Donato Conservation Area, honoring him after he spent about eight years making improvements to the land and teaching students about it along the way. Back in 2012, Donato’s class participated in the International Carbon Footprint Challenge offered by Stanford University, which had students take a closer look at their own carbon footprints.

In a statement, Woodstock High School Principal Justin Smith called Donato an “ambassador for countless students and staff” throughout his time at the school.

“His passion for science and the environment has inspired students and been instrumental in shaping school and district initiatives,” Smith said.

Donato said he was grateful to District 200, adding he was allowed many opportunities he might have been denied elsewhere, such as field trips around the country.

In his time there, he also served as the student council adviser for 30 years, the environmental club adviser for 20 years and the president of the teachers union for nine years.

In addition to his position with MCSEEP, Donato said he hopes to take scuba diving trips with his wife after they both recently received their diving certifications.

Throughout District 200, there were 33 retirees this year, according to district officials.

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