#D33 Pride Awards
The #D33Pride Awards are given to individuals/organizations who have made a significant impact on the students, staff, and families of the District 33 community. The #D33Pride Awards provide the opportunity to honor those who have "gone above and beyond" to support and enhance the work of promoting excellence in education.
#D33 Pride Award Recipients
Teresa Ocon- Olhagaray, Family Liaison, Turner Elementary School
"Teresa displays a kind and understanding disposition when working with the families and D33 staff. She has volunteered to help in the main office at Turner, monitor students at arrival/dismissal, and has been at the majority of the parent cafes that happen twice a month every month. She is compassionate and supports families and staff who might be passing through difficult situations. She consults with administrators and the members of the Family Liaisons team to make sure all the resources are exhausted to help those individuals overcome barriers."
~ Natalie Cabral, Lizzette Soto, Nathaly Franco, Belitza Contreras-DeLeon; Family Liaisons
Anna Leuer, Teacher, Currier Elementary School
"Anna has positively impacted the members of the District 33 community through caring, kindness, and enthusiasm in various ways. She has a constant smile and positive attitude every day, which is contagious for the people around her–both students and adults. While a chair of the Sunshine committee, she provided many D33 staff with get-well cards, bereavement plants, congratulatory notes, and small gifts for the birth of babies or the celebration of marriages. To this day, she often brings goodies as gifts for the Currier staff for no reason other than to spread good cheer. She very often buys items for her students, such as water bottles, sunglasses, desk organizers, and school supplies, as well as other gifts as rewards or to celebrate holidays. She volunteered to lead an after-school yoga class for staff to help them reduce stress and promote good health. She often brings unexpected treats or snacks to team meetings. She shows caring for the environment by taking her students out to pick up trash on Earth Day each year, participating in stewardship activities with the Mighty Acorns program, raising and releasing monarch butterflies with her class, and having her students plant seeds and care for their growing plants in the classroom. She has also volunteered for the food pantry and homeless shelter that serves the District 33 community. She is always one of the first to introduce herself to new staff members and ask how she can help them acclimate to Currier. These activities demonstrate her enthusiasm for the community in which she lives and works."
~ Sue Avila, Teacher, Currier School
Audrey Erickson, 5th Grade Student, Gary Elementary School
"Audrey embodies our classroom mission statement to "learn as much as possible to be proud of ourselves and become quality people." She focuses on producing quality work in whatever task a teacher assigns. One of my favorites was a mini-unit of study about how plants grow and what they need. For her final product, she used her resources to write a paragraph in Spanish, using the content of our research. Then she added elements of graphic design using Canva to make a lovely finished product. When she has finished her assigned work, Audrey continues her learning independently. I've seen her taking notes about interesting stories from kids' news source, CNN 10. Then she researches her own questions and adds to her notes. Audrey may be a natural learner, but she never stops when expectations are met."
~ Marilyn Zable, Fifth Grade Dual Language Teacher, Gary Elementary School
Fourth Grade Reading Enrichment Class, Turner Elementary School
"I truly believe this group of students is something special. They are kind and supportive of each other, other students, and the staff at Turner School. They have an enthusiasm for learning and are eager to meet each school day. These students have created a learning environment where they feel comfortable trying new things and making mistakes. I am very grateful to get the opportunity to be with them."
~ Amanda Eakins, GATE Teacher, Turner Elementary School
Middle School Student
Charlotte Conger, 7th Grade Student, Leman Middle School
"Charlotte is very involved with activities at Leman. She is an active member of the Principal Advisory Committee and is in our PE Leaders program and on our Unified Basketball team. She is well-known as a friend to everyone and at a time in life when it is very hard to stand up for the "right" thing, she leads her peers by being an example of all of the Leman Values.
Charlotte is always looking for ways to positively impact the school and our community. She is not shy about sharing her perspectives and approaches all topics with a problem-solving mindset. Charlotte is a great collaborator. She worked along with our teachers at Leman to build a backpack and locker policy that met the needs of all stakeholders."
~ Maggie Lay, Principal, Leman Middle School
Sonia Mendez, Executive Secretary, Department of Partnerships
"Sonia Mendez is new to her position of Executive Secretary for the Department of Partnerships this year. She put in a lot of time outside of normal work hours to learn the role and dove into difficult work. Sonia works directly with our families that are experiencing homelessness and treats everyone with the utmost respect, dignity, and care. She goes above and beyond for our department, and all D33 staff members, as she makes sure everyone has what they need to be successful. One example of Sonia going above and beyond for a D33 parent is when she was helping a family that was new to the country get transportation to a doctor's appointment. There was an issue with one of the rides, and the District could not get ahold of the parent to confirm they arrived at the appointment. Sonia drove to the doctor's office to ensure mom and the students arrived and sat in the waiting room with them until they were finished and got on their taxi ride home. She said she just needed to make sure they were taken care of and got home safely. This demonstrates Sonia's dedication to families and her genuine concern for their well-being. We are so proud to have Sonia as a team member and a welcoming face in our District office."
~ Sarah Norton, Coordinator of Partnerships
Tammy Charvat, Psychologist, Preschool
Tammy has been advocating for the needs of this community for over 30 years. She is often the go-to person to better learn about the processes and procedures within the program.
Tammy has mentored many psychology students and interns and has provided them with a strong foundation upon which to build their own careers as school psychologists. She has unofficially also mentored many other coworkers who are new to the preschool program and continues to provide them with support and guidance when they need it.
Tammy has been a part of countless committees. She’s the one to go to for data and has maintained student data and program-wide data. Her organizational skills have helped support and expand our program.
Tammy puts the students entering the preschool program, and their families, first by ensuring that they don’t feel overwhelmed by the screening and enrollment process of our program. Tammy advocates for all the families within the program and sees that every situation is different. She works extremely hard to make sure that the students are always accessing what they need but also get the support they need in the most inclusive way.
Her care and devotion to this community, its staff, and the program itself are evident in everything she does.
Aubrey Campbell, 2nd Grade, Currier Elementary School
"Aubrey has been showing great leadership in our classroom. She positively encourages all students to succeed. She includes students who may be too shy or less confident in their academics. She coaches students through tasks allowing them to try on their own but encourages them along the way. She is the first to support our nonverbal student in class which has empowered others to show kindness and respect to everyone." ~ Kristy Klich, Second Grade Teacher, Currier Elementary School
Angie Porcayo, Student Supervisor, Leman Middle School
"There aren't many people more dedicated than Angie. Angie never misses a day of work. She shows up each day with a positive attitude and is always flexible and responsive to the needs of the day. On any given day, you can see Angie on Hazel Street directing traffic, in the cafeteria moving the lunch lines through, in the hallways escorting students, in the office connecting with families, on Joliet street releasing busses, and at the soccer game cheering on our student-athletes. Angie is our real-life superhero!"
~ Dr. Hannah Christie, Assistant Principal, Leman Middle School
Marilyn Zable, Teacher, Gary Elementary School
"Marilyn created an opportunity for 5th-grade leadership roles in the school. These activities engaged students in the research process and collaboration. Students worked together using the templates Marilyn provided to develop a lesson on a specific aspect of Dia de los Muertos (ofrenda, papel picado, or butterflies) that they would later teach to another grade level. "
~ Victoria Wilson, Teacher, Gary Elementary School
Prishi Mehta, preschool student, Winfield
"Prishi is a model student who supports her teachers and fellow students to follow classroom expectations. She is quick to point out fellow students who make good choices.
She is a very kind and caring friend who is quick to help friends use their zone tools when in the red or blue zone. She has, on many occasions, helped her friends when they were not feeling well. When her friend hurt her leg, she helped her get up, walk down the hall to class, and get help from a teacher.
Prishi works hard to make sure our class is a welcoming community, and I can count on her to help new friends understand the expectations in the classroom. She is truly a teacher in training, and we are so lucky to have her in our class."
~ Ruheena Padshah, Preschool Teacher
Brady Deichmiller, third-grade student, Indian Knoll
"Brady shows leadership both in and out of the classroom. He is always following directions and constantly helping those around him. He is a model student. He is respectful to his peers and all the adults in the building. He begins each day with respect and a positive attitude and always tries to set the best examples.
Brady has made some great relationships with students in other classrooms. When he sees the teachers may be struggling with some students in the self-contained classrooms, he asks if he can go and offer his help. When he sees those students walking in the hallway, he is very excited to give high fives and say hello. He is always speaking with the adults and other students in the building. When other students walk into the classroom, he will ask them how they are and how their weekend/night was. He is an excellent listener and applies himself to his learning."
~ Meagan Mojica, Teacher & Christine Nelson, Social Worker
Alex Munoz, fourth-grade student, Gary School
"Alex Munoz has positively impacted his fourth-grade classroom by assuming the role of a positive peer. He offers ideas to help his classmates work together cooperatively. Alex encourages his peers to try their best and demonstrate expected student behaviors.
He has shown tremendous caring and kindness towards his peers. He befriends classmates who may need support in some capacity or simply need a friend. Alex has also referred students to the school social worker when he's noticed they needed adult support. Alex has indicated that he follows the motto, "See something, say something." He has reassured his peers that they have done nothing wrong but can seek support from a trusted adult at school.
Alex has been such an inspiration this school year, and many people at Gary School are so very proud of him."
~ Estela Vander Kuyl, Social Worker
Lauren Dixon, LEA
"Lauren is an excellent team player who goes above and beyond! She effortlessly juggles schedules among three schools and is always quick to assist our Gary special education team with questions and challenges we have. Lauren looks out for the best interest of students receiving special education services, as well as other students who are demonstrating struggles in the school setting, by ensuring that our team is considering the whole student, their needs, and best practices for serving them well. Lauren thinks outside the box to solve problems and raises important questions to our team to improve the way we work together and support students.
~Leah Baumgart, Gary School, SLP
Missy Day, District COVID Liaison
"Missy consistently maintained a positive attitude, providing assistance and support for parents by answering their questions and calming their fears. Missy managed hundreds, if not thousands, of emails and phone calls following a survey giving parents the option to Opt-Out of SHIELD testing. In some parts of the community, there was mistrust about this process, but Missy faced hostility and criticism with grace, by responding in a way that demonstrated her true patience and kindness, despite these sometimes challenging conversations. Rather than shy away from these confrontations, Missy approached them enthusiastically, looking at each one as a possibility to build a bridge to a better understanding of the purpose and goal of this program, which was to keep our schools open and our students and staff healthy and safe as schools reopened.
~ Kim Wisinski, Director of Student Services