District 54 is proud to announce the following recipients of the 2014 Illinois State Board of Education’s Those Who Excel Awards:
- Jillian Sinitean, the gifted teacher/enrichment coach at Aldrin Elementary School in Schaumburg, won an Award of Merit in the student support personnel category.
- Kim Bowman, a third-grade teacher at Link Elementary School in Elk Grove Village, won an Award of Merit in the early career educator category.
- Nina Gdowski, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Keller Junior High School in Schaumburg, won an Award of Merit in the classroom teacher category.
- Schaumburg Township Council of PTAs President Mikel Eppenbaugh won an Award of Merit in the community volunteer category.
- The District 54 Math Team won an Award of Merit in the team category.
- Brad Kaplan, the custodian at Dirksen Elementary School in Schaumburg, won an Award of Recognition in the educational service personnel category.
As the gifted teacher/enrichment coach, Jillian works with groups of gifted or high-achieving students each day, providing enrichment activities to accelerate their learning. She also supports teams of teachers throughout the school each week, helping them plan lessons that accelerate learning. She collaborates with general education teachers on instructional strategies to further support students in applying critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
However, Jillian does more than that. She is the homework club facilitator, serves on PBIS, worked on the annual Celebrate Reading and Writing literacy event, volunteered for the school’s family math and science event, worked on the School Improvement Plan and presented about Aldrin’s Professional Learning Community at a PLC conference. She is always quick to volunteer to support the students and staff at Aldrin. When Jillian heard Aldrin wanted to support the bilingual students with an after-school program, she volunteered to teach it. Jillian assessed the children and wrote lessons that would help turn those areas of need into areas of strength. In the end, the bilingual population met growth targets and the school began to close the gap between subgroups.
For the past couple of years, Kim has been the accelerated math teacher for third grade. This group of students is comprised of the sharpest thinkers and highest achievers across the grade level. Kim has worked diligently to match the accelerated math curriculum with the Illinois Learning Standards in an interactive and engaging manner. Last year’s growth data showed that 100% of the students in Kim’s math class met their spring assessment goal.
Kim is also a leader in our district’s technology initiatives. Kim applied for and received a grant that provided a classroom set of iPads. Through much additional time and energy, Kim uses the iPads to maximize student engagement. She has impressed staff members across the district with her creativity and strong connection to the Illinois Learning Standards. Her lessons continually challenge students to be thoughtful when producing work, as well as critiquing other students’ work. This accountability has strengthened the students’ understanding of important topics.
In early June each year, Nina compiles assessment data for her incoming students and begins tailoring her lessons to meet every student’s individual needs. If students demonstrate achievement gaps, families and students are invited in early August to develop a plan to ensure all key stakeholders are invested in the student’s success. This collaborative commitment continues throughout the year as Nina frequently contacts families to celebrate successes and share academic concerns.
Nina’s commitment to her students is to develop them into lifelong learners who appreciate the value of reading. She understands that many of our students live in poverty and personally funds their abilities to live in a literature-rich world. She fills a bookcase outside her classroom with engaging literature, allowing students to take home a book for free. She takes her stipend for running Intervention Club and uses it to purchase electronic readers or other materials that will entice students to continue to read beyond her classroom door.
Mikel is currently the president of the Schaumburg Township Council of PTAs. In this role, she oversees a council that consists of the PTA presidents from 28 schools, as well as a council board. Mikel is an outstanding volunteer for many reasons, including her commitment to communication and her commitment to healthy living. As the PTA president and a member of the District Citizens Advisory Committee, she facilitates communication between school PTAs, with the Illinois and National PTAs, with District 54 administration and School Board, and with the community as a whole.
Mikel’s commitment to student health began when she was the PTA president at MacArthur, when she led a cohesive initiative to improve the health of students. This included the purchase of the Peaceful Playground program for recess, health and fitness nights for families and healthier food choices on the hot lunch menu. This commitment continues at a districtwide level in her support of the Schaumburg CAN healthy lifestyles initiative.
District 54 Math Team
Over the past two years, the District 54 Math Team has had a profound impact on the academic achievement results for the students of District 54. For the 2013-2014 school year, 21 of District 54’s 27 schools have achieved at the top 5% nationally on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) math assessment, due in large part to the support provided by the team of Megan Ankrom, Dawn Czajka, Stephanie Krizmis, Amy Varchmin, Gina Wirth and Jim Vreeland.
The Math Team has spent countless hours before, during and after school supporting more than 1,000 teachers with math instruction in the classroom. This includes one-to-one support, working with Professional Learning Communities and designing professional development sessions. In addition, Math Team members have presented to parents and the community regarding the instructional shifts required of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics.
As the evening custodian at Dirksen, Brad’s job responsibilities include cleaning classrooms, and keeping the rooms organized and the campus litter free. However, what really sets him apart is when he goes above and beyond the duties spelled out in his job description. Brad supports the neighborhood groups and PTA that regularly use the school, as well as the students and teachers that are part of the Dirksen community.
Brad is involved with Dirksen’s PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) Check in/Check out program, serving as a mentor and providing positive feedback to a student who benefited from the support.
The Illinois State Board of Education will honor all District 54 representatives during its annual Those Who Excel banquet on Oct. 25 in Normal.