Six District 97 Staff Members Named "Those Who Excel" Award Winners

Six individuals from District 97 have earned awards in conjunction with the Illinois State Board of Education’s "Those Who Excel" educator recognition program. Below is a list of this year's winners, as well as a quote about them that was provided by the individual(s) who nominated them for the award.

Jonathan Ellwanger, Principal from Beye Elementary School - Award of Merit (School Administrator)

“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.”

Emilie Dolan, Special Education Teacher from Lincoln Elementary School - Award of Recognition (Classroom Teacher)

“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.”

Pam Gaffney and Rachel Youngberg ("Team Gaffberg"), Co-Teaching Team from Brooks Middle School - Award of Merit (Team)

“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.”

Jamie Winchell, Teacher Librarian from Julian Middle School - Award of Merit (Student Support Personnel)

“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.” 

Juanita Tillman, Crossing Guard Assigned to the Corner of Ridgeland and Augusta - Award of Merit (Educational Service Personnel)

“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.”

The "Those Who Excel" program annually honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the state’s public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools. The winners will be honored at a banquet being held in Normal, IL on October 19, 2019.