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American Education Week Celebration – To recognize and honor the more than 286 District 62 education support professionals providing services such as clerical and administrative support, nursing and health, security and technical support. The American Education Week takes place in the month of November. Education Support Professionals Day helps draw attention to the tagline, "Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility". The tagline calls upon all Americans to do their part in making public schools great for every child so that they can grow and achieve in the 21st century.

Education support professionals include the following:

  • Paraeducator employees who provide instructional and noninstructional support as partners in student learning
  • Clerical service employees who are the front line of public relations with parents and staff and the community
  • Custodians who pay constant attention to all safety conditions in schools
  • Maintenance service employees who are responsible for heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and overall safety for the entire school environment
  • Health and student service employees who are vital to student health and welfare within a public school
  • Technical service employees who provide essential technical services throughout a school district


Lighthouse Awards

The annual program recognizes and honors District 62 employees who make outstanding contributions to the District’s students and staff. Colleagues nominate the honorees. The featured educational support personnel are the winners of District 62 Lighthouse and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Those Who Excel Awards.

Lighthouse Awards Recipients
2007 – 2015 Alphabetized List of Winners | Winners by Years

  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010

Each year the District 62 Lighthouse Awards program recognizes and honors employees who make outstanding contributions to the District’s students and staff. All of the winners were nominated by their colleagues.

Educational Service Personnel

Educational Service Personnel.

    We recognize: Lisa Bojarski, Terrace School: A health technician who is extremely patient and kind Sheila Bellizzi, Terrace School: A para educator who finds the right balance of assisting students and encouraging them to work independently Amy Bryers, Early Learning Center: A para educator who is in tune with students’ feelings, wants and needs Barbara Glover, Forest School: A health technician with a heart of gold for school families Kimberly McGing, Orchard Place School: A flexible and adaptable para educator Kimberley Racine, Early Learning Center: A para educator with whom students trust and enjoy working.
Essential Services Employees

Essential Services Employees.

    Staff/Teacher Appreciation Week recognizes all of the employees who provide essential services that provide care for our students and keep our district running. Everyone who works in a school knows the importance of the employees who get to work sometimes before the crack of dawn to plow parking lots, get buses running, prepare student meals or fix a leaky drinking fountain. Our custodial, maintenance staff, food service staff and bus drivers provide essential services that have a direct impact on the learning environment.

    This year, District 62 Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Nelson Gray visited with First Student Transportation Company on Wednesday to join the company in thanking the bus drivers for the Des Plaines area. The district presented a Thank You banner created by Terrace School. To all our behind-the-scenes workers: Thank you for all you do to keep our schools in great shape and our students fed. Thank you to our bus drivers for safely transporting our students every day!
Student Support

Student Support Personnel.

    We recognize: Kazimiera Kobylarczyk, Central School: An English Language Learner teacher who knows how to get the most out of her students, Elena Laufer, Algonquin Middle School: A social worker who spends countless hours developing relationships with school families, Melissa Llano, Forest Administration Center: An exemplary instructional leader, Mary Osborn, Early Learning Center: A speech language therapist who believes all students can grow and have fun doing it, Stefani Pollack, Early Learning Center: A social worker who effectively establishes behavior expectations for all students, and Thelma Rodriguez, Algonquin Middle School: A social worker who has taken a group of Latina young women to a weekend conference where they heard role models talk about what it takes to be successful.

National Teacher Appreciation Day.

    We recognize our classroom teacher winners: Lisa Butera, Terrace School: A tech-savvy, data-driver teacher, a leader in school-wide social-emotional support, Janet Callebert, Terrace School: A special education teacher who masterfully calms emotional students, Kimberly Cruz, Iroquois Community School: A middle school teacher who champions students’ social and emotional growth and implements new instructional strategies, Debbie Hanstad, Terrace School: A terrific partner and great collaborator who is nurturing to both students and staff, Nicole Knight, Iroquois Community School: An influence for excellence to students and school community through her dedication to the profession, Jeff Lisy, North School: A positive role model who uses real-life lessons to inspire students, Elizabeth Moravec, Orchard Place and Terrace School: An art teacher who blends technology and other subjects into her projects, Susan Turner, Terrace School: Arrives early and stays late to do everything necessary to ensure students success, Lynn Zahorak, Iroquois Community School: Known for fostering trusting relationships with parents that support her students’ social and emotional needs.

Administrator Appreciation Day.

    We recognize: Dr. Michael Amadei, Principal of Iroquois Community School: An educational leader who has the ability to understand the unique needs of teachers and students, Nelson Gray, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services: He has skillfully managed the district's finances while supporting innovations to bring a new level of instructional practice to the district, and Colleen White, Principal of Cumberland School: A dynamic leader who has developed a student-centered focus striving to meet the needs of each student.

Thank you to all District administrators for supporting teachers and students in everything you do every day!

2012 Annual Lighthouse Awards Highlight Staff

During the April District 62 Board of Education meeting, President Brenda Murphy presented Lighthouse Awards to twenty-seven staff and one school board member. “Staff are truly honored when they are publicly acknowledged for their work, stated Mindy Ward. “Their efforts, which are above and beyond their job responsibilities, are valued and appreciated.”

Martha Avina, Plainfield Elementary School

Martha Avina, Plainfield Elementary School – Martha Avina is a vital part of Plainfield School and an important connection to the community. Sitting just inside the front door, she is an important connection to the parents and other community members that pass through that door. For those of us already inside the building, she keeps us all pointed in the right direction, completing the paperwork we need to and letting us know what is going on with the parents she speaks with. She is an essential link between our staff and our community. Ms. Avina is a big part of the Plainfield environment. People often remark on what a warm, inviting place Plainfield is, and Ms. Avina is the school’s first impression. She is the first staff member that most people speak to when they enter our school and she does make people feel welcome. Her warm personality carries over to the students and staff. The ISBE presented Martha Avina an Award of Recognition in the Educational Support Category of the 2012 Those Who Excel Awards.

Cathy Hennelly, Plainfield Elementary School

Cathy Hennelly, Plainfield Elementary School – As a health clerk, Cathy Hennelly is an influence for excellence in her caring attitude toward students and staff. Not only does she care about the health of everyone at Plainfield, she goes beyond to make sure students have glasses, backpacks, coats, gloves, etc. Ms. Hennelly cares for the whole person. Ms. Hennelly is a vital part of 4th and 5th grade field trips, coordinating fund raising, money collection, and acting as a point of contact with the leaders of each field trip. She has taken on these responsibilities to make these valuable trips more successful for students and staff.

Tamee Hussar & Pilar Ramirez, Early Learning Center – Tamee Hussar and Pilar Ramirez are instrumental in servicing the families of School District 62 and the community. They spend long hours reaching out to families in need to ensure that every family is able to access all resources that are available to them. Some examples of their tireless efforts are: Getting children qualified for the food program, government assistance for childcare/preschool, bus transportation, helping make sure all children have health insurance, translating, summer school program, home visits and performing preschool screenings.? While coordinating these activities, they go the extra mile by showing true compassion and caring for many families who may be in a difficult situation. This duo won an Award of Recognition in the Team Category of the ISBE Those Who Excel Awards.

Fabiola Ortiz, South Elementary School

Fabiola Ortiz, South Elementary School – As a classroom tutor Fabiola Ortiz provides one on one instruction to students as needed. In reality, she goes way beyond what is expected. Mrs. Ortiz arrives for work around 8:00 am, which is about 45 minutes early, to tutor students. This is extremely helpful since a fairly large number of students come in early asking for help with their studies. Mrs. Ortiz has never been asked to assist so early in the morning, but she never misses an opportunity to help. This really demonstrates her commitment to student learning. Mrs. Ortiz has a tremendous positive affect on students and the classroom-learning environment. Mrs. Ortiz will make an effort to know what lessons are covered ahead of time. She does this so that she can help facilitate the learning process and identify the particular needs of students. Mrs. Ortiz shares instructional concepts that she has learned from other teachers.

Janice Powal, Plainfield Elementary School

Janice Powal, Plainfield Elementary School – Janice Powal is an influence for excellence in our school by her devotion to Plainfield’s library. Jan has worked at Plainfield for many years and during that time she has worked to make the library a place where students can feel welcome.? She knows each student and helps him/her find a book that will interest him/her. Through her work on Plainfield’s Sunshine Committee, Ms. Powal has worked to keep the morale at Plainfield high. She often coordinates lunches, which celebrate the various holidays throughout the year and brings the staff together. Her creative thinking has helped promote a family feeling. We celebrate each person’s achievements and supporting each other through the difficult times. Ms. Powal is there for us during both.

Mark Zahorchak, Glenn Beatty, Sr., Matthew Artarian, Plainfield Elementary – Plainfield’s custodial staff have done a remarkable job in maintaining the school building and grounds. Visitors to our school are often heard to remark on how well kept and clean our school is. A well-kept school strengthens student pride in the school. They know that Plainfield is a clean, safe environment. It makes it easier for them to learn. The custodial staff ensures the building’s cleanliness on a daily basis and works hard to make sure that the building is safe for students and staff.

District 62 Teachers Saluted During American Education Week – To raise awareness about the critical need to provide every child with a quality public education, School District 62 pays tribute to teachers on Educators’ Day in observance of American Education Week celebration, November 11–17, 2012. District 62 celebrates the impact that teachers have in helping students narrow the achievement gap. Teachers make public schools great and work to open students' minds to ideas, knowledge and dreams. Teachers keep American democracy alive by laying the foundation for good citizenship and fill many roles, as listeners, explorers, role models, motivators and mentors. Teachers continue to influence us long after our school days are only memories. They represent the achievements of more than 400 District 62 educators.

Halina Wirtanen, North Elementary School

Halina Wirtanen, North Elementary School – Halina Wirtanen is committed to bettering herself as a teacher by taking her professional development seriously and in becoming a leader in teaching the North School staff the ins and outs of the technology that she embraces. North has learned countless tips on the SMART Board, but always with a focus of how to keep each activity a student-centered activity. Ms. Wirtanen takes it upon herself to participate in additional training in this area. Once she masters a process, she shares it. The end goal is making North School the best it can be. Halina Wirtanen received an Award of Merit in the Educator Category of the ISBE Those Who Excel Awards.

Amy Lewis, Iroquois Community School

Amy Lewis, Iroquois Community School – As an early career educator, Amy Lewis continues to learn the “ins and outs” of teaching, and yet she finds herself in a unique position. At ICS, music teachers teach K-5 general music, a middle school general music program, conduct Beginning Band and Orchestra, Intermediate Band and Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, Jazz Band and Middle School Chorus. As the “tenured” teacher, Ms. Lewis is leading the charge to accomplish this incredible task. Most people would be overwhelmed by all of this responsibility, but Amy manages to do it all extremely well with grace and professionalism. She is truly an asset to ICS. Amy Lewis was recognized with an Award of Excellence in the Early Educator Category of the ISBE Those Who Excel Awards. Congratulations!

Dan Cooper, Forest Elementary School

Dan Cooper, Forest Elementary School – Dan Cooper is an influence for excellence in integrating technology and education at Forest School. He utilizes an interactive white board daily in his classroom. He spends many hours finding activities which fit the curriculum in science, social studies and math. When Forest was fortunate to secure iPads for its ELL students Mr. Cooper immediately secured applications that would foster creativity and learning for second language learners. He serves on the technology committee and helps teach the educators how to use and utilize technology in the classroom.

Anne Lucas, Forest Elementary School

Anne Lucas, Forest Elementary School – Anne Lucas exemplifies excellence in her role as a literacy enrichment teacher. Her lessons incorporate best practice in vocabulary instruction, including total physical response, visual representations of words, and multiple exposures to the words and their meanings. She ties new learning to previous learning. Additionally, Ms. Lucas’ pacing of lessons is phenomenal allowing her to use every minute of instructional time. Finally, Ms. Lucas generates enthusiasm for words in her students. They often are found pointing out words that they’ve learned in literacy enrichment when they encounter them in books. Anne Lucas was one of the District 62 teachers to have their class videotaped as a model of best practices in vocabulary instruction. Once videotaped, her lesson was used as part of the PD Monday presentation for all the teachers in the district. It was also used with principals during their Principals’ Instruction meeting. She serves as a model for achieving educational excellence.

Diane Robinson, Plainfield Elementary School

Diane Robinson, Plainfield Elementary School – Diane Robinson developed several after-school programs that give younger students an opportunity to express their love for music outside of music class. She created harmonica and drum groups. Ms. Robinson has helped our local community by taking groups of students to our nearby senior home to sing for the holidays, brightening the lives of those who might need it most at that time of the year. She serves as a mentor for many Plainfield teachers. She is someone that you turn to for advice, both professional and personal. Also, Ms. Robinson takes on the responsibility of mentoring student teachers from nearby colleges. Her work with student teachers shows her dedication to making Plainfield and District 62 better places and improving education practices.

Kimberly Roth, Terrace Elementary School

Kimberly Roth, Terrace Elementary School – Kimberly Roth’s kind and caring demeanor makes her students feel comfortable in her safe, welcoming classroom. She keeps the best interest of her students in mind as they embark on their learning journey. Her classroom is filled with stimulating colors, picture schedules, animated prompts and soothing music. Ms. Roth makes it a point each day to connect with every child she works with, and often takes other colleagues in our school. Not only does she work with students on a continual basis, she also maintains close relationships with their parents. Ms. Roth provides strategies to parents to help make the connection between school and home.

Marc Schellhorn</strong>, <em>Orchard Place Elementary School

Marc Schellhorn, Orchard Place Elementary School – When we talk about teachers who have an impact or influence in our school community, without a doubt, Marc Schellhorn comes to mind. He always strives to make his colleagues comfortable and valued. Mr. Schellhorn is always available to accommodate our teacher requests with a smile and a joke. He is very flexible when it comes to schedules and he is very generous with his time. If there is an activity at school, you will find arc there. If there is a night event, he is always willing to volunteer his time to be there with the students. Mr. Schellhorn is never seen having lunch in the teachers’ lounge because he is always busy with some kind of club, whether it is chess, Pokémon, baseball cards, or even beanie babies club. The gymnasium is usually filled with students playing all sorts of sports, whether is badminton, soccer, or dodge ball just because they ask and Mr. Schellhorn said, “Yes!”

Kristen Vaziri, Algonquin Middle School

Kristen Vaziri, Algonquin Middle School – As the orchestra director of the south of the district, Kristin Vaziri is constantly influencing everyone who comes into contact with her. Ms. Vaziri works very diligently to create a productive, warm, and positive learning environment for all of her students. Over the past few years, Kristin has grown the orchestra program from eighty students to more than one hundred fifty students. Her love for teaching and her program is not only evident, but also to her students and the community as well. Ms. Vaziri schedules multiple concerts in the year to show the hard work of her students to the community. Sometimes the concerts are so well attended that the audience is standing room only!

Barbara Zachwieja, Cumberland Elementary School

Barbara Zachwieja, Cumberland Elementary School – Barbara Zachwieja is thorough in preparation, planning and delivery. She orchestrates integrated lessons. When her class studies the Civil War you are likely to see literature circles actively discussing historical novels from the time period. Later, in the library, you would see small groups of students using technology and cooperative skills while researching Civil War heroes. This research often comes to life during student oral presentations. Ms. Zachwieja often utilizes simulations, games and “hands-on activities” to keep students actively engaged in meaningful lessons. She quickly assesses student strengths and weaknesses and will differentiate tasks for students who require challenges as well as for those requiring remediation. Ms. Zachwieja embraces new technology. She has incorporated computers and iPads into her teaching.

2011 Annual Lighthouse Awards Highlight Staff

During the April District 62 Board of Education meeting, President Brenda Murphy presented Lighthouse Awards to twenty-seven staff and one school board member. “Staff are truly honored when they are publicly acknowledged for their work, stated Mindy Ward, director of community relations. “Their efforts, which are above and beyond their job responsibilities, are valued and appreciated.”


For more information, please contact Jennifer Tempest Bova, Director of Community Relations, (847) 824-8070.

Awards & Recognitions

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Those Who Excel - 2015
Nelson Gray (Recognition), Kazimiera Kobylarczyk (Recognition), Tech, Tech Baby-Catherine Hanley & Dorothy Henson (Recognition), Debbie Hanstad (Recognition) & Sheila Bellizzi (Meritorious Service)
Those Who Excel - 2009
Wendy DeVitto (Recognition), Stephanie Duckmann (Merit), Mary Fink (Recognition), Stephanie Hajdu (Merit), Janice Rashid (Recognition), and Dana Yala (Merit)
Those Who Excel - 2008
Helen Galvan (Merit), Cathy Sears (Recognition), Barbara Guill (Recognition), Asia Gurney (Recognition), Colleen Harrold (Merit), and Brenda Murphy (Merit)
Those Who Excel - 2007
Mary Ellen Bleeden, Paul Piszkiewicz, Joan Abrams, Marcia Sciavone, and Tim Henson

Illinois Association of School Administrators
2013 Illinois Superintendent of the Year
Dr. Jane L. Beyer Westerhold

Illinois Association of School Boards
2012 School Board Governance Recognition
Award of Merit
2012 Educational Environments Exhibition
South Elementary School
Orchard Place Elementary School

Award of Excellence
Special Purpose Category

Milagros Bravo, Monserrat Cabrera-Landini, Celia Garcia-Fernandez, Flor Marchisotto, Christine Trujillo of the Second Language Department
Community Relations Director Mindy Ward, and Julie Nykiel of Nykiel Designs for a Second Language Programs brochure
Awards of Merit

2011-2012 Student & Parent Handbook
Handbook Committee – Brad Voehringer, Denise Fernandez, Helen Galvan, Sylvia Ortega, Mindy Ward and Julie Nykiel

Response to Intervention Brochure
RtI Committee – Catherine Borge, Dr. Janice Rashid, Kathy Ryan, Noelle Schwartz, Jean Wilson, Mindy Ward and Julie Nykiel

April Showers of Thanks

Celebration Honoring District 62 Volunteers and Corporate Partners – Mindy Ward and Julie Nykiel

Japanese Tea Ceremony and Distinguished Volunteer Awards, Special Purpose Publication
2011, Honorable Mention
Shining the Light on our Staff, Special Purpose Publication
2011, Honorable Mention
U62, Branding/Image Package
2011, Honorable Mention
2010-2011 U62
2011, Golden Achievement Award
Master Planning Community Discussions
2009, Golden Achievement Award
Exemplary Public Relations Activity

Family Connections
2009, Honorable Mention
Print Newsletter - External Audience

Gallery 62 Art Exhibit
2008, Golden Achievement Award
Exemplary Public Relations Activity

Shining the Light on our Staff – Staff Recognition
2008, Golden Achievement Award
Exemplary Public Relations Activity

Partners in Education
2008, Honorable Mention
Print Newsletter - External Audience

Cabinet Newsletter
2007, Award of Merit
Electronic Newsletter – Internal Audience

Inside 62
2007, Honorable Mention
Print Newsletter - Internal Audience

2015 Awards

INSPRA 2015 Communications Contest and Golden Achievement Awards

Audio/Video Category Up to 10 Minutes

Dan Chianelli and Dr. Paul Hertel

Calendars and Handbook Category
2014-2015 Student and Parent Handbook

Dr. Ellen Swanson, Mindy Ward and Julie Nykiel
Distinguished Service Awards 2009
Kathy Ryan, Dr. Janice Rashid, Mary Fink,
Wendy DeVitto, Stephanie Duckmann,
Steve Schaefer, Hank Nerwin, Robert Klein,
Mike Lake, John Haupt, and Cliff Hagedorn

Distinguished Service Awards 2008
Brenda Murphy, Tracy Kellerhals,
Don Gierszewicz, Asia Gurney, Helen Galvan,
Mindy Ward, Laura Ellsworth, Chandra Eby, Lourdes Bravo, Lorene Schweig,
Gina Cheeks, Janvi Patel, and Rad Mika

MeLinda Ward
2008, INSPRA Professional of the Year
Board Briefs
2008, Award of Merit
Accentuating the Positive
2008, Award of Merit

Partners in Education
2008, Award of Merit
Print Newsletter - External Audience

Distinguished Service Awards 2008
Paul Piszkiewicz, Mary Ellen Bleeden, Joan Abrams, Marcia Sciavone, and Robert Sanks
Inside 62
2007, Award of Merit
Print Newsletter - Internal Audience

District Website
2007, Award of Excellence
All Audience

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Directions to Administration Center

Leon Smaage
Administration Center

777 East Algonquin Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016-6281