Plainfield School Board to Honor 'Excellent' Educators and Staff

Awards of Excellence are Tuesday, April 15.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
Submitted by District 202:

The District 202 community is invited to help honor 16 exceptional educators and staff members who have significantly impacted their students, schools and the community. 

The District 202 Board of Education will host its 22nd Annual Awards of Excellence at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, in the auditorium at Plainfield High School – Central Campus High School, 24120 W. Fort Beggs Drive, Plainfield. A reception with light refreshments will follow the ceremony.

The award honors teachers and non-administrative staff who have in one way or another significantly impacted the lives of their students and peers. In all, 139 nominations were received for 107 District 202 educators and staff members.

A committee of three Board members and the Board’s community ambassador picked this year’s Awards of Excellence winners. Since 1993 the Board of Education has honored 319 individuals with Awards of Excellence, including this year’s group.

“The Board of Education is very proud of our staff, whose professionalism and dedication help make District 202 an excellent public school system,” said Board of Education member Rod Westfall, a member of the Board recognition committee.

“The 16 people we honor this year have earned, and deserve this recognition for their hard work and commitment to District 202,” he said.

The Board will also present the Elizabeth “Bess” Eichelberger award to retiring Crystal Lawns Elementary School Principal Dr. Kathy Baxter; and the Richard Ira Jones award to community members and volunteers Karen Hamilton and Linda Hanley. Both awards recognize recipients for significant community service.

The 2014 Awards of Excellence winners are:

River View Elementary School social worker Clare Beasley – a parent wrote, “Having someone like Mrs. Beasley on our side has made a very difficult year a little easier. She is a selfless, caring person who deserves to be recognized for her dedication to students.”

Plainfield East High School science teacher Robert Benck -- a student wrote, “Mr. Benck not only creates an engaging class, but is a remarkable role model and coach to every student.”

Meadow View Elementary School custodian Charles “Chuck” Bennett – a parent wrote, “Mr. Chuck is awesome. He is always smiling and happy to be at work. He knows most students by name and enjoys the “help” they give him.”

Central Elementary School third grade teacher Tammy Broussard -- a parent wrote, “At times I felt that not only was Mrs. Broussard nurturing (her son), but also nurturing me that it was going to be ok. As a parent, you want nothing more than to see your child succeed. I am privileged and honored to say that Mrs. Broussard has been instrumental in giving (her son) the necessary foundation to be the best that he can be.”

Grand Prairie Elementary School music teacher Lynn Cihlar -- a parent wrote, “My mother often says, ‘Ms. Cihlar is the best music teacher I have ever seen, bar none.’ This is coming from a woman that had been in school district administration (and who) does not routinely hand out such glowing praise. It truly is an amazing experience to witness one of Mrs. Cihlar’s productions.”

Heritage Grove Middle School 8th grade math teacher Tom DeGeus -- a student wrote, “Mr. DeGeus is an outstanding person who goes above and beyond the expectations of a teacher. Since the very first day of school, he has been reaching out to all of his students, learning about the student behind the name…He is by far the best teacher I’ve ever had.”

Plainfield South High School English teacher Erin Durkin – a student wrote, “Ms. Durkin has always gone above and beyond to ensure her students understand the material. She’s always helping her students. She’s very involved with her class. She loves teaching. Ms. Durkin rocks!”

Plainfield South High School choir director Megan Goetz -- a student wrote, “Mrs. Goetz makes me feel like I have a purpose. Mrs. Goetz is the reason why I want to become a music educator. I want to connect with my students in a way that makes them feel as if they can conquer the world, the way Mrs. Goetz does with hers.”

Eagle Pointe Elementary School media clerk Kathy Gurgel -- a coworker wrote, “Mrs. Gurgel is a superhero when it comes to our Media Center. She is always ready to lend a hand and help out students or our staff when we need assistance. It seems like nothing is more important than helping us and doing whatever she can to assist.”

District 202 Translator and Family Liaison Oralia Guzman -- a coworker wrote, “Mrs. Guzman is a tremendous asset to District 202, serving as an important connection with, and voice to our rapidly-changing community. She is one of those “quiet” people whose work often goes unnoticed, except by those who benefit (greatly) from it.”

Plainfield East High School band director David Lesniak -- a parent wrote, “(Mr. Lesniak) helps build confidence with his teaching style. Because of his encouragement many of his students go on to college and have pursued careers in music and the arts. He is an inspiration to many and…an amazing teacher.”

Plainfield East High School nurse Mary Beth Lindemann -- a parent wrote, “The students love her kindness and no-nonsense way of dealing with them. Staff could also count on her for an outstanding sounding board. She truly listens to all, be they student, parent or fellow staff members.”

John F. Kennedy 8th grade language arts teacher Jody Litkenhus -- a parent wrote, “To hear (Mrs. Litkenhus) tell me how proud she is of (my daughter) and how much (my daughter) means to her makes me so proud to have my child being led by such an incredible person. There are no words good enough to explain the amount of joy this teacher has brought to our student.”

Lincoln Elementary School kindergarten teacher Mary Partman -- a coworker wrote, “(Having helped open Lincoln in 2003, Mary) has been the cornerstone of (Lincoln’s) kindergarten team from the beginning, and has made it her personal mission to ensure the success of each and every kindergartener from first day the little ones walk in the building.”

Plainfield High School – Central Campus principal’s secretary Chari Rahn -- a coworker wrote, “Chari is amazing. She is secretary to the principal, but she actually takes care of all of us. Our school would probably fall apart if she was not here. Chari is a PHS grad, so she gets it. She loves this school and wants to give all of us her best effort.”

Freedom Elementary School first grade teacher Nancy Trusk -- a parent wrote, “(Mrs. Trusk) completely embodies District 202’s Mission Statement. Mrs. Trusk fosters each individual’s value, uniqueness and importance and creates a trusting, supportive environment by believing in students and expecting the best from them. (Her son) and the other 26 students (in Mrs. Trusk’s class) are so lucky to have her.” 


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