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Heartfelt Thanks to School Board
School Board Members Day is November 15, 2012

To recognize the efforts of the nearly 6,000 school board members in the state, Thursday, November 15, 2012, is designated as School Board Members Day in Illinois. District 62 encourages the Des Plaines community to raise awareness and understand the crucial role an elected board of education plays in a representative democracy. The District 62 Board of Education is comprised of Brenda Murphy, Stephanie Duckmann, Steven Adams, Ronald Burton, Dr. Terry Lindsay, Sharon Lynch, and James Poskozim.

This year, School Board Members Day falls on Thursday just before the opening of the 80th IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. The date was set in the original legislation as November 15, no matter what the day of the week.

School Board members will be formally recognized at the November 19, 2012 Board of Education meeting. Board meetings take place at Forest Elementary School, 1375 Fifth Avenue, Des Plaines and begin at 7:00 PM. Community members, leaders, business partners and local civic groups are invited to join in the recognition efforts. The seven-person board is made up of public servants who volunteer their time to share their vision and voice about the future of public education.

Questions may be directed to 847-824-1170.

Each stakeholder group is recognized on the District 62 website,, and staff members who are honored for their contributions to public education will be highlighted. Spotlights will call attention to American Education Week's tagline: Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibililty.

American Education Week presents all Americans with an opportunity to honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. The weeklong celebration spotlights the different people who are critical in building great public schools for the nation's 50 million K-12 students. American Education Week's celebration days include:

  • Monday, November 12: Veterans Day – Schools nationwide will be closed in observance of the armed service veterans that served this country.
  • Tuesday, November 13: Educators’ Day – Teachers will be recognized for the critical role they play in narrowing the achievement gap while expanding student achievement.
  • Wednesday, November 14: Education Support Professionals Day – Individuals who provide invaluable services to schools are recognized for their outstanding work.
  • Thursday, November 15: School Board Members’ Day – The Board of Education will be recognized to raise awareness and understand the crucial role an elected volunteer board of education plays in a representative democracy.
  • Friday, November 16: Substitute Educators Day – This day honors the educators who are called upon to replace regularly employed teachers.

School District 62 educates more than 4,600 pre-k to eighth grade students in one K-8, two 6-8, eight K-5, and one pre-k sites. More than 724 certified and support staff work together to educate Des Plaines’ children.

District 62 Hosts "ESP DAY" As a Part of 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, today, November School District 62 celebrates Education Support Professionals Day. The celebration is part of American Education Week taking place November 11-17. 2012. 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

The featured educational support personnel that are highlighted below are the winners of the 2012 District 62 Lighthouse and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Those Who Excel Awards.

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.

Thank you to every District 62 educational support staff member for working together for our children.

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. The featured teachers are the winners of the 2012 District 62 Lighthouse and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Those Who Excel Awards. 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.

Thank you to all District 62 educators for working together for our children.

District 62 School Board Recognized for Commitment

Recently, the District 62 Board of Education earned 2012 School Board Governance Recognition designation from the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB). The District 62 school board, which is comprised of President Brenda Murphy, Vice President Stephanie Duckmann, and Members Steven Adams, Ronald Burton, Dr. Terry Lindsay, Sharon Lynch, and James Poskozim, is one of seven to earn this distinction.

In its second year, the School Board Governance Recognition program acknowledges school boards that learn and practice effective governance behaviors as identified in IASB's Foundational Principles of Effective Governance, through participation in and support for board development programs and events.

The primary focus of this program is on full board development and participation rather than individual board member efforts. Effective school boards understand that excellence in local school board governance requires full board commitment to obtaining the knowledge, skills and abilities critical to good governance.

It is that commitment that provides the opportunity for the board to practice and model continuous improvement and life-long learning for the staff, students and community. In return, the board becomes better prepared to make a difference, to provide leadership for district improvement and to leave a lasting legacy for the district, the community and, most importantly, its students.

Applications, along with instructions and criteria, were mailed to superintendents and board presidents in mid-April. Applications were reviewed in August and award recipients notified shortly thereafter. The District 62 school board received their plaque at the North Cook Fall Division Meeting and will be acknowledged at the Joint Annual Conference in November. Boards may apply for the award every two years.

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For more information, please contact:
MeLinda Ward
Director of Community Relations

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Leon Smaage
Administration Center

777 East Algonquin Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016-6281