The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recognized each of District 15’s six nominees with awards in its prestigious “Those Who Excel” awards program this year.
Each year, the ISBE’s “Those Who Excel” awards program honors outstanding teachers, administrators, student support personnel, educational service personnel, and community members for their exceptional contributions to schools throughout the state. Candidates are nominated by their local schools or people in their communities. Letters of recommendation are also required. A committee of peers, including representatives from statewide education organizations and former award recipients, determines the level of recognition nominees will receive—Excellence, Merit, or Recognition.
This year, members of the District 15 community will receive a total of six awards—four Awards of Excellence and two Awards of Recognition—at the ISBE’s “Those Who Excel” Banquet, which will be held Saturday, October 20, at the Marriot Bloomington-Normal Conference Center in Normal.
Monica Petersen, Jane Addams School principal; Jeanne Marino, LRC director at Central Road School; Van Le, District 15 custodial supervisor; and Sheri Beattie and Cherie Laufenberg, the District 15 Assistive Technology Team, will all receive Awards of Excellence.
Manda Currier, a special education teacher at Plum Grove Junior High, and Amanda Genovise, an ESL teacher at Kimball Hill School, will both receive Awards of Recognition.
Mrs. Petersen began her career as an educator when she joined District 15 in 2001. She served for seven years as a third-grade teacher at Gray M. Sanborn School, and then moved on to serve as the assistant principal position at Jane Addams for the past four years. This is her first year serving as the school’s principal.
Mrs. Petersen was nominated for this award in the “School Administrator” category by Pleasant Hill School Principal David Morris, who served as Jane Addams’ principal during the four years Monica served as its assistant principal.
“Over the past four years that she has been Jane Addams’ assistant principal, Monica has gone above and beyond her normal job description to serve a diverse community that is changing at a rapid pace, and a teaching staff that is continually learning how to teach to these changes,” said Mr. Morris. “Truly, her commitment to excellence in education inspires others to achieve and has a positive effect on our school environment every single day.”
Mrs. Marino joined District 15 in 1998 after serving for 10 years as an elementary school teacher in various suburban Catholic schools. She taught third grade at Hunting Ridge School for three years before moving on to serve as the school’s LRC director for six years. In 2006, Mrs. Marino moved on to serve for two years as the LRC director at Lincoln School. She has been the LRC director at Central Road for the past three years.
Mrs. Marino was nominated for this award in the “Student Support Personnel” category by Central Road’s principal, Joshua Carpenter.
“When thinking of a ‘perfect librarian,’ I think of Jeanne’s caring and knowledgeable qualities and her overall concern for all students at Central Road,” said Mr. Carpenter. “Jeanne is always willing to assist staff members, and, no matter the situation, always maintains a positive attitude. Her cheerful nature is inspiriting to all members of our learning community, and we are fortunate to have Jeanne.”
Mr. Le joined District 15 in 1988, five years after fleeing Vietnam for the United States as a United Nations-sponsored political refugee. He first served as the night custodian at Kimball Hill School for three years. Then, in 1991, almost two months after he became a naturalized U.S. citizen, he was promoted to his first head custodian position in District 15. For the past 21 years, he has served as a head custodian at Winston Churchill School, Plum Grove Junior High, and Winston Campus. This year, he was named the District’s new custodial supervisor.
Mr. Le was nominated for this award in the “Educational Support Personnel” category by Winston Campus Junior High’s former principal, Mary Baum.
“Mr. Le’s background and personal story have impacted the type of employee he is today,” said Mrs. Baum. “As an immigrant who had to learn English to be able to take care of his family, Mr. Le had to work tremendously hard with a singular focus on being successful. This approach by Mr. Le continues to this day. His determination to succeed in every task he undertakes makes him a wonderful role model for students.”
Cherie Laufenberg and Sheri Beattie—D15 Assistive Technology Team
Mrs. Laufenberg is a special education teacher who has been with District 15 since 1999. Mrs. Beattie has been an assistive technology facilitator and speech-language pathologist with District 15 since 2000. Serving as a team for the past 12 years, they’ve done their own research, sought out their own training, and drawn upon their combined wealth of experiences with special needs individuals to find or develop technologies that specifically address the individual needs and challenges of their students.
Mrs. Laufenberg and Mrs. Beattie were nominated for this award in the “Team” category by Cynthia Phelps, District 15’s Student Services director.
“Together, they service the entire District’s assistive technology and augmentative communication needs,” said Mrs. Phelps. “They ensure that every child has the ability to communicate and has access to the curriculum in the most efficient and effective way for each child, and they provide school teams with the tools and resources they need to support the students in their classrooms.”
Mrs. Currier joined District 15 in 2006 after serving for six years as a special education teacher at various schools in Oregon and suburban Chicago. She has taught at Plum Grove Junior High for the past three years, but has also served at Kimball Hill School and Walter R. Sundling Junior High.
Mrs. Currier was nominated for the award in the “Classroom Teacher” category by Plum Grove’s principal, Dr. Kerry Wilson.
“Describing Mrs. Manda Currier to you encapsulates three words: dedication, professionalism, and passion,” said Dr. Wilson. “Manda not only teaches our special education students, she inspires them to dream and grow beyond their wildest visions. Simply put, Manda inspires growth and development from her students and colleagues, and that, I believe, is the essence a true leader—the ability to help others meet their full potential. Manda does that every day. She inspires the students and teachers she works with here at Plum Grove Junior High to do and be their best.”
Mrs. Genovise accepted her first full-time teaching position in 2008 when she joined District 15. For her first two years in the District, she served as an itinerant ESL teacher, splitting her time between Winston Campus Elementary and Kimball Hill School. For the past two years, though, she has been a full-time member of Kimball Hill’s teaching staff.
Mrs. Genovise was nominated for this award in the “Outstanding Early Career Educator” category by Kimball Hill’s principal, Tracey Wrobel. This award category publicly recognizes promising young teachers who are no more than five years into their careers.
“On a daily basis, Amanda exemplifies dedication, passion, and excellence in a way that far exceeds her level of experience,” said Ms. Wrobel. “She is one of those teachers who never thinks she is good enough or knows enough to make a true difference in the students’ lives she touches each day, yet she does. She is constantly seeking new professional development opportunities so she can further enhance her skills. She is extremely flexible and willing to take on any task as long as it is going to help her students succeed.”
-Story Submitted by Community Consolidated School District 15