• #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. 

  • Nomination Categories and Schedule

  • Nominated Recipient Criteria

  • Nomination Process

      2023-2024 Recipients

      • Second Trimester

        Student Category, 4th - 5th Grade

        Jesus Linarez Mendez, 4th Grade Student, Wegner School

        Jesus is a motivated and enthusiastic learner who inspires his classmates to learn and grow at school every day. He is a leader in all his classes. Jesus actively participates in all class activities and shows enthusiasm for learning in everything he does at school. He models his thinking for his classmates and is always willing to help his classmates learn. When Jesus works collaboratively with his peers, he is a natural leader. He is willing to take the lead when he works with a team to help all members be successful.  

        ~Lisa Jirovec, 4th Grade Dual Language Teacher, Wegner School 

        Student Category, 6th - 8th Grade
        Vanessa Munoz Mendez, 8th Grade Student, Leman Middle School

        Vanessa comes to class ready to learn and create, and her enthusiasm is contagious to her fellow students. She always applies herself completely to art projects and is willing to take risks to build her skills and expand her creative abilities. 

        Bonnie Ryan, Art Teacher, Leman Middle School 



        Classified Staff Category

        Yanira Perez, Case Manager, Birth to Three Program

        Yanira is a dedicated ambassador for the district. As a leader, she provides unwavering support to her team, offering a listening ear and fostering professional growth through reflection. Yanira demonstrates exemplary character, contributing innovative ideas and knowledge to enhance programs. Additionally, Yanira goes above and beyond to support families in crisis, offering emotional support, connecting them to resources, and even providing practical assistance like food. Yanira's dedication and compassion make her an invaluable asset to both her team and the community. She prioritizes individualized support, ensuring that each family and colleague receives the attention and assistance they need, regardless of the time or effort required.

        Yanira has consistently provided support to mothers in our Program during mental health crises. She has remained calm in emergency situations and has collaborated with medical professionals and police to assist families. In one instance, she even went into a river to help a mother in crisis.

        ~  Esther Romo-Ortiz, Jenn Brennan, Evelyn Soberanis Molina, Marie E. Torres, Silvia Carrasco

        Certified Staff Category
        Dan Guererro, TOSA and MLL Coach, Pioneer Elementary School 

        Dan serves multiple roles within the school community, excelling as both the MLL Coach and TOSA. In his capacity as a coach, he actively supports the implementation of new curriculum, behavior management, and co-teaching in classrooms. Moreover, Dan contributes positively to the school's leadership team and builds strong relationships with students, offering personalized support and guidance to address their needs. He maintains open communication with parents, delivering constructive feedback and updates on their child's progress. Known for his kindness, patience, and contagious positivity, Dan is a supportive presence for both staff and students, demonstrating genuine care and enthusiasm. Beyond his professional roles, Dan is deeply involved in the school community as a parent, attending after-school and community events to show his support. His dedication and commitment make him an invaluable asset to the district.

        ~ Courtney Daily, Instructional Coach, Pioneer Elementary School 


        District 33 Ballet Folklorico is nominated for its outstanding leadership in the arts and positive impact on the community, characterized by its commitment to inclusivity, mentorship, and community engagement. The organization welcomes participants of all backgrounds and skill levels, fostering a supportive environment where diverse individuals celebrate Ballet Folklorico traditions. Through mentoring, experienced members guide and nurture newer participants, enhancing artistic skills and instilling leadership qualities. The organization actively participates in local events and cultural celebrations, sharing the beauty of Ballet Folklorico with a wider audience. Their caring demeanor and infectious enthusiasm create a supportive space where every member feels valued and supported. District 33 Ballet Folklorico's dedication to preserving and promoting Ballet Folklorico is demonstrated through regular rehearsals, workshops, and performances, showcasing their commitment to cultural heritage. Their impact extends beyond West Chicago through community outreach efforts, educating audiences about Ballet Folklorico's rich history and traditions. Overall, the organization's exceptional commitment has significantly enriched the cultural diversity of District 33 and the West Chicago community.

        ~ Violetta Diego, Student, West Chicago Community High School D94

         First Trimester

        Student Category, Kinder - 1st 
        Tyler Tompkins, 1st Grade Student, Gary School

        Tyler, a first-grader at Gary School, shines in English, Spanish, and reading enrichment. He takes initiative, organizing classmates during group transitions. In social-emotional learning, he values fun over winning, graciously accepts losses, and demonstrates adept self-regulation. Tyler's organizational skills make him a helpful leader in class, guiding classmates and exemplifying expected behaviors. Overall, Tyler's readiness, positive attitude, and helpful demeanor make him stand out in both academics and social interactions.

        ~ Jill Cooper, GATE teacher, Gary School




        Student Category, 4th - 5th 
        Quetzalli Santiago, 4th Grade Student, Pioneer School

        Quetzalli, a fourth-grader at Pioneer School, is a confident and inspiring leader. Over three years, she has excelled academically and actively participated in after-school programs and the orchestra. Quetzalli's positive attitude and compassion shine through her willingness to help classmates in need. Whether encouraging struggling peers during math quizzes or offering comfort to a distressed student, she consistently demonstrates empathy and kindness. Her impact extends beyond academics, positively influencing the school atmosphere and serving as an inspiration to others.

        ~ Jennifer Buchanan, LBS1, Pioneer School 


        Classified Staff Category
        John Trella, Custodian, Leman Middle School 

        John serves as a dedicated leader at Leman Middle School, ensuring the smooth operation and cleanliness of the school on a daily basis. His tireless efforts extend to organizing a safe and orderly lunchroom, hallways, and classrooms. Beyond his custodial responsibilities, John actively contributes to the school environment, updating the lunchroom board with menu choices, inspirational phrases, and drawings. He is consistently present, addressing needs and ensuring the well-being of both students and staff. John's commitment is evident in his prompt and effective response to any issue, reflecting his dedication to a safe and thriving school community. His work demonstrates a genuine concern for both the physical and social-emotional well-being of everyone at Leman Middle School, making him a valued and respected member of the team.

        ~ Stephan Rogers, Megan Bartlett, Kelly Reinmann, Deans, Leman Middle School 

        Classified Staff Category
        Maricela Padilla, Paraeducator, Leman Middle School 

        Mrs. Padilla has made a significant impact on the community through her leadership, demonstrating a selfless commitment to the safety and well-being of others. Her quick response during a student choking incident exemplifies her dedication. Beyond emergencies, she consistently encourages both students and staff to strive for their best, fostering motivation and a positive atmosphere. With over two decades of service to the district, Mrs. Padilla's devotion to students, the community, and the district as a whole is evident. District 33 is fortunate to have her as a valuable and caring member of the team.

        ~ Claudia Cabral, Paraeducator, Leman Middle School 


        Certified Staff
        Courtney Daily, Instructional Coach, Pioneer School 

        Courtney demonstrates exceptional dedication to the school's success. She goes above and beyond in mastering new curriculum resources for all elementary grades, providing quality coaching for teachers. Courtney excels in handling challenging situations with a positive approach, setting high-quality examples for teachers, and positively impacting lesson quality. She fosters positive connections with students, checking in with them individually and leaving encouraging notes. As an experienced teacher, Courtney is a valuable resource for best practices and is known for her reliability and dedication. Overall, she plays a crucial role in making the school a brighter and more comfortable place for both staff and students.

        ~ Daniel Guerrero, Teacher on Special Assignment, Pioneer School


        Parent/Volunteer Category
        Diana Fialka, Parent, Gary School

        Diana, a dedicated PTO leader, has demonstrated exceptional leadership from an engaged parent to the role of PTO president. Her successful initiatives, such as Toys for Tots and organizing two assemblies, highlight her commitment to creating meaningful experiences for all students at Gary. Diana's efforts in organizing PTO events have strengthened the school community, fostering unity among students and families, facilitating parent interactions, and creating lasting memories.

        ~ Yecenia Mexicano, Teacher, Gary School 


        Organization/Group Category
        Gary School PTO

        The Gary School PTO plays a crucial leadership role in the school community, organizing events such as Scholastic Fairs, the Cougar Store, and family-oriented activities like Fall Fest and International Night. They closely collaborate with Gary's staff, involving them in event planning, soliciting themed baskets for raffles, and participating in the Scholastic Book Fair. The PTO goes above and beyond during Teacher Appreciation Week, expressing gratitude through gestures like flowers and meals. Their meticulous attention to detail is evident in creative staff activities, including the "Clue" game. The PTO addresses staff needs through surveys, purchasing the school mascot costume, and organizing a naming contest. The Gary School  PTO has demonstrated consistent dedication to the school community and unwavering commitment over the years.

        ~ Estela Vander Kuyl, Social Worker, Gary School 

      2022-2023 Recipients

      • Third Trimester

        Teresa Ocon

        Classified Staff
        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

        Certified Staff
        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


        Second Trimester

        Audrey Erickson

        Elementary Student
        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

        Student Group
        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


        Charlotte Conger

        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

        Classified Staff
        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

        Certified Staff
        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.


        First Trimester

        Aubrey Campbell

        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

        Classified Staff
        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

        Certified Staff
        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 


      2021-2022 Recipients

      • Second Trimester

        Prishi Mehta

        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

        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

        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

        First Trimester

        Lauren Dixon

        Certified Staff
        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

        Classified Staff
        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