Making My D97 Better Award: Yolanda Harris and Ty Smith

Yolanda Harris (left) and Ty Smith (right)

Yolanda Harris (left) and Ty Smith (right), teacher assistants at Holmes Elementary School.

District 97’s "Making MyD97 Better" Award recognizes staff, students, parents and community members who are making our schools a better place for all. The district will choose a winner each month, and share their stories through our newsletters, website and social media pages.

We are thrilled to announce our "Making MyD97 Better" winners for April 2022: Yolanda Harris and Ty Smith, teacher assistants at Holmes Elementary School.

Yolanda and Ty have been making a difference in the lives of District 97 students, staff and families for the past two decades. Yolanda is currently in her 20th year in the district; Ty is in her 18th, and is currently serving as the president of the Oak Park Teacher Assistants’ Association (OPTAA).

The duo was nominated by Holmes Principal Christine Zelaya, who noted that they always go above and beyond for their students, making sure that they feel safe, supported and cared for while they are at school.

“They work with so many of our students and are instrumental in helping them access their learning more effectively,” Zelaya said. “We stretch them so thin, and they are always so kind and caring to our students and the entire Holmes community.”

Check out the video we made for Yolanda and Ty by clicking the box below or by visiting

Do you know someone—a teacher, staff member, parent, student or community member—who is helping to make D97 a better place for all? Share their story and nominate them for a "Making MyD97 Better" Award!