District 97 Selects Nominees for Those Who Excel Awards

Thank you again to everyone who submitted a nomination for the 2019-20 Those Who Excel Awards. While everyone who was nominated has had a profound and lasting impact on our schools and the children we serve, we are only allowed to submit one entry per category. With this in mind, the administration reviewed all of the nominations it received, and selected the individuals below to represent the district in the categories of classroom teacher, student support personnel, educational service personnel, school administrator and team. 

Congratulations again to all of our nominees. The nomination packets, which can be accessed by visiting https://www.isbe.net/pages/those-who-excel.aspx, must be postmarked no later than June 3, 2019.

Classroom Teacher

  • Emilie Dolan, special education teacher from Lincoln Elementary School – “Emilie goes above and beyond to support students. She is available to them whenever they are in need, including outside of the school day. She also spends countless hours tailoring her classroom activities so that every child gets exactly what they need. She is a true advocate for her students.”

Student Support Personnel 

  • Jamie Winchell, teacher librarian from Julian Middle School – “Jamie is always focused on student voice. She realizes the power and potential students have, understands how developing curious minds is the core of one's education and constantly seeks out students’ interests so that they can guide their own learning. She has also invested herself in students who were so often ignored because she feels charged to create an engaging learning experience for all.” 

Educational Service Personnel 

  • Juanita Tillman, crossing guard assigned to the corner of Ridgeland and Augusta – “Ms. Juanita shows up rain or shine or bitter cold with a smile and a kind word to start the day for kids. Her friendly greeting really helps the day get off to a better start. In addition, she always asks about bumps and bruises and bad moods, and truly shows concern for all of the children she is there to help.”

School Administrator 

  • Jonathan Ellwanger, principal from Beye Elementary School – “Jonathan inspires students, parents and teachers with his tireless dedication to ensuring that all children not only have an excellent education, but also the chance to contribute to the community in the arts, citizenship and leadership. He serves the Beye community with a tireless commitment and optimism that is a shining example to us all.”


  • Pam Gaffney and Rachel Youngberg, co-teaching team from Brooks Middle School – “My daughter was so fortunate to have this dynamic duo as her language arts teachers last year. The impact they had on her can be found in her voracious appetite for reading, her desire to listen and discuss, and her increased confidence in writing. They also helped ensure that my child saw every other child in her class as an equal partner in learning.”