Niles police said Tuesday that Richard Balentine, a faculty member at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, was found dead in his residential room on the school's campus.
Balentine, 38, was due to receive the 2013 "Teacher of the Year" award April 27 from the Niles Chamber of Commerce, during its Night of the Roses gala awards dinner.
Earlier: Niles Chamber of Commerce names 2013 Award Winners
Police said they were called to the school, at 7655 W. Dempster, today for a death investigation, and learned Balentine had not been seen since yesterday. They said school staff members entered his residence on campus and found him lifeless.
Police said Balentine appeared to have taken his own life. Niles police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office are investigating.
In announcing his award last month, the Niles Chamber said that Balentine, the department chair for religious studies at the high school, had coordinated trips to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, and had taken students to build houses for Habitat for Humanity.
The Niles Chamber's statement, released about three weeks ago, quotes an unnamed parent as saying that because of Mr. Balentine, “students discover skills they never knew they had, along with an eagerness to serve others in need.”