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District 54 encourages parent participation in 5Essentials Survey

District 54 is once again participating in the annual statewide survey of school climate and learning conditions, the 5Essential Survey. The survey provides an opportunity for students, teachers and parents to share their perspective and help guide our school improvement efforts.

The parent survey will be available online through Feb. 14, 2020, at

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s organizational culture in an individualized report measuring five “essentials” critical for school success:

  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environment
  • Ambitious Instruction

The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and is available in English and Spanish. If you have more than one child, you may complete the survey for each child.

The survey is administered by UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago on behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education. If at least 20 percent of parents at a school complete the survey, a supplemental parent report will be generated and shared with schools. We are hoping to meet the target this year in our schools.

Student Survey

A similar survey will also be administered to teachers and to students in fourth grade through high school. District 54 students will take the survey at school before winter break. If you do not want your child to participate, please contact your school principal by Nov. 8. If you have children at more than one school, you must contact the principal at each school.

Students will log in to the survey with their student ID and birth date. Student identities will be confidential. Teachers or administrators will never see individual responses to survey questions and will only receive aggregated information, such as the total percentage of students who agree homework assignments help them learn the course material.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact 5Essentials Client Services at (866) 440-1874 or

For more information, click here to read the letter from Superintendent Andy DuRoss.

Para obtener más información, haga clic aquí para leer la carta del Superintendente Andy DuRoss.

Brief from the Board Meeting on October 17, 2019

Discussion – State and District Assessment Results:

District 54 uses a variety of research-based indicators to measure students’ readiness for high school, college, career and beyond. Students are highly successful in District 54 as outlined in four areas.

  • Whole child – District 54’s new Social-Emotional Survey assessed each student in areas such as optimistic mindset and self-regulation. Teachers ranked each student on a 5-point scale and students ranked themselves. Parent survey results are being tabulated.
  • Culture – District 54 is performing well in all five areas of school success as measured by the Illinois 5Essentials survey: ambitious instruction, supportive environment, collaborative teachers, involved families and effective leaders. In addition, a fall survey of District 54 staff shows 89% are highly satisfied and engaged compared with 34% of employees nationally.
  • Academics and assessment – District 54 students perform well on assessments such as Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), which shows 80% of our students are proficient. They also pass algebra and junior high language arts at significantly high rates (98% and 100% respectively).
  • Participation – All District 54 students participate weekly in the arts, and more than 60% of students in third through eighth grade participate in a club. Daily student attendance is also higher than the Illinois average.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Freedom of Information Act Requests: Three requests were received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding school policies and procedures, disciplinary records related to vaping, and certified payroll for work performed at Link.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session Board of Education meetings on Oct. 3, 2019
  • The resignations, termination, retirement and employment of personnel
  • Checks dated Oct. 11, 2019
  • The treasurer’s reports on cash and investments for August 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for September 2019

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss shared two #WeAre54 videos, highlighting the people in District 54 who make this a special place to learn and work. Click on each name to watch the videos about Fairview Nurse Cindy Straub and Dirksen Student Rithvik Ramakrishnan.

Board President Report:
Board President Bob Kaplan reported that a number of District 54 employees will be recognized this weekend at the Illinois State Board of Education Those Who Excel banquet. Read more about our honorees on our website.

District Citizens’ Advisory Committee:
Board Member Barbara Hengels said DCAC heard a presentation on how District 54 is committed to ensuring all students have adults at school who champion their success and well-being.

District 54 Education Foundation:
Board Vice President Mary Kay Prusnick announced that the District 54 Takeover at the Windy City Bulls game will be held on January 10. Information about ticket sales will be out soon.

New Business: 

  • The Board approved a resolution estimating the amount of the 2019 aggregate tax levy at $184,259,529 and setting a public hearing for Nov. 14.
  • The Board approved revisions to Board Policy 7:270 – Administering Medicine to Students.

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:22 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment matters and student matters.

Creation Studios designed to inspire student creativity

Setting poetry idioms to music. Creating sound effects to represent different parts of math equations. Recording original songs for the morning announcements. 

It didn’t take long for a group of Eisenhower Junior High media students to come up with a variety of potential uses for the new sound lab in their school library – which has been transformed into a Creation Studio. 

A student working with GarageBand“We like to create in media class. This will give us another opportunity,” said Hope, an eighth-grade student, as she tried out GarageBand on one of the iPads in the sound lab. “It would be cool to create different sound effects to go along with a project.”

Creation Studio renovations were completed at Eisenhower, Mead, Addams and Frost junior high schools this summer as part of the district’s strategic focus on cultivating innovation. In addition to the sound labs, the Creation Studios include vision labs, virtual and augmented reality labs, flexible seating and technology integration. 

“Learning Centers can and should function as the hub for our schools,” Associate Superintendent Nick Myers said. “They should reflect our instructional priorities and be exciting places where students are deeply engaged in activities that support their creative interests and aspirations.”

The new spaces offer a wealth of opportunities for students to create, communicate, collaborate and think critically in all subject areas, as well as to make connections among subjects. For instance, a student could create a character in art, animate the character, create a story for the character and set it to music for a final product, Mead Learning Resource Teacher (LRT) Amelia Reimel said. 

Students working with Garageband“This is a place where students have a new opportunity to not only learn new technology, but to create something that they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to create,” Reimel said. The Creation Studios provide unique ways for quieter students or those who struggle with traditional assessments to show their learning, she added. 

“It’s a way for kids to have a brand-new voice and a brand-new way to demonstrate what they are capable of,” Reimel said. 

“The audio studio will provide us with new educational opportunities and new ways to express our ideas,” said Dhruv, a Mead eighth-grade student.

Teachers are using the space in the Mead Creation Studio to maximize learning, whether that is by reserving the virtual reality lab for a lesson or using the risers for a Socratic circle, Reimel said.

Students love it as well. 

“They understand what each new space is used for – so for instance, when they come in to read, they’ll go sit on the couches or the big chairs rather than at the tables,” Reimel said.

Student working with GaragebandAt Eisenhower, the Creation Studio will make the eighth-grade social studies lesson about the Holocaust even more powerful. Students will start the unit with a virtual walk-through of Auschwitz with the virtual reality goggles and end the unit by creating a project in the sound or vision studio, such as a news broadcast or an audio diary, to show what they learned.

“Students are very interested and moved by what they are learning about the Holocaust, and this type of project will have more of a long-term impact on them and their knowledge,” Eisenhower LRT Jeanne Ott said.

Staff and students have other ideas for the new sound and vision labs in the Creation Studios. For instance, Ott said she has talked with some language arts teachers about students filming book talks and sharing them on the morning announcements.

“Students will be more engaged by hearing what a classmate says about a book than they would by reading the synopsis on the back,” Ott said. 

Eisenhower Learning Resource Assistant Pamela Sanchez is excited to run a new after-school Creation Studio Club after winter break – and students who have already tried out some of the technology are more than ready to return.  

“I love this room!” said Karla, an Eisenhower eighth-grade student, about the sound lab. “It’s my new favorite room.”

District 54 Early Learning Center recognized for excellence

Two preschool students building a towerThe District 54 Early Learning Center is a place where every student’s progress is encouraged and celebrated and every child has a champion. For its supportive, dedicated approach to educating the district’s youngest learners, the ELC has received a 2019 Gold Circle of Quality from the Illinois State Board of Education.

The District 54 ELC currently serves approximately 600 students ages 3 to 5, including special education and at-risk students.

“It is so important that students see school as a fun, safe place to come and learn, especially at this foundational level,” ELC Principal Julie Gorvett said. “The staff here is very passionate about their work with students. They always keep what is best for students at the forefront of everything they do. We truly are better together because we all support one another in meeting students’ needs.”

Research consistently demonstrates that a high quality early childhood education results in a narrowing of the achievement gap, increased brain development, lower retention rates and special education placements, and an increased development of both academic and social skill acquisition for children.

“Achieving this designation demonstrates your school’s commitment to providing quality early childhood education to children in your district,” Toni Porter, Professional Development Director for ExceleRate Illinois which administers the recognition, wrote in a letter announcing the award.

Gold Circle programs have met the highest standards for quality in three areas:  learning environment and teaching, administration, and training and education. Gold Circle programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement.

National Louis University has a contract with the Illinois State Board of Education to monitor all public school-based early childhood education programs receiving funding through the Preschool for All and Preschool for All Expansion portions of the Early Childhood Block Grant. ExceleRate Illinois gives each program a designation of Gold, Silver or Bronze based on the information collected.

The District 54 Early Learning Center has a history of winning awards since its opening in 2014.

  • The ELC received an Outstanding Practices in Inclusion recognition from the Early Childhood Least Restrictive Environment Stakeholders Consortium, Early CHOICES and the Illinois State Board of Education in 2018.
  • The ELC received an Award of Excellence for Preschool Teaching and Learning from ExceleRate Illinois in 2017.
  • Parent Educators from the ELC won a Distinguished Service Award of Excellence in the Team category from the Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association in 2017. The Parent Educators serve as a resource to meet the needs of families in District 54 with children from birth through age 5, as well as expectant parents.
  • The ELC received an Award of Excellence for the Inclusion of Children with Special Needs from ExceleRate Illinois in 2016.

For more information about District 54’s Early Childhood programs, visit

Briefs from the Board Meeting on October 3, 2019

Discussion Item – Cultivating Innovation in Instructional and Facility Design:
District 54 continues to focus on cultivating innovation in instructional and facility design as outlined in the 54 Promise strategic plan.

This summer District 54 purchased “Future Ready” furniture, installed interactive digital monitors and painted accent walls in vibrant colors in classrooms throughout the district. As part of the addition at Link School, new classrooms were built and upgrades were made to the Link Creation Studio, including a digital recording studio and film production studio. Creation Studio renovations were also completed at Eisenhower, Frost, Mead and Addams. These include sound labs, vision labs, virtual and augmented reality labs, flexible seating and technology integration.

All kindergarten through second grade students received iPads and all third through eighth grade students received Chromebooks through the district’s 1:1 device initiative. Students have completed digital learning lessons at all grade levels. Innovate 54 teams of teachers and administrators from each school continue to meet with a focus on implementing high quality STEM/STEAM lessons, using technology to accelerate learning and assessing student progress. In September, the district began training all teachers by grade level to build a shared understanding of the district’s vision for cultivating innovation.

Discussion Item – Championing Every Student:

District 54 has maintained a mission of ensuring student success for many years. This success focuses on supporting students socially and emotionally as well as academically.

On August 13, happiness representatives and leaders from each school and the district office attended a retreat focused on sustaining and growing the commitment to positive psychology and long-term optimism among students and staff. Plans were developed for recommitting to positive habits, professional development on emotional intelligence for staff, self-care for optimistic educators and fostering an Orange World by bringing the message to families and the greater community. Later that week all 2,000 District 54 staff came together to kick off this year’s theme, Everyone Needs a Champion. Keynote addresses inspired staff to focus on their “why” to ensure student success.

During the district’s first half-day inservice in September, the entire staff sat at each school reviewed a chart showing the names of every student. They were asked what they know about each child to make sure that each one of our more than 15,000 students has a true connection to an adult. Teams created a plan for ensuring each student had a champion.

Other ways in which the district is ensuring whole-child success include the following.

  • The district’s third through eighth grade Student Ambassador program focuses on strengthening student leadership qualities and creating opportunities for students to influence their school community in a positive way.
  • District 54 staff and junior high students will learn how to increase their ability to identify students who need emotional support and to be aware of the resources available to those who may be considering suicide.
  • We Clubs were created at each junior high school, so all students have a place where they belong and feel accepted.
  • Students participate in a variety of programs offered by Special Olympics including Club Unify, the Youth Activation Summit and District 54’s junior high mini-summit.
  • A Social Emotional Survey will be given to students, staff and families this fall to provide a better picture of whole child success. Results will be published on a new student profile. The profile will be shared with parents at report card time.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Freedom of Information Act Requests: One request was received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding a surveillance video and photo.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session school board meetings on September 19, 2019
  • The resignations, retirement, termination, employment and salary adjustments of personnel
  • Checks dated September 27, 2019

New Business: 

  • The Board had the first reading of revisions to Policy 7:270 – Administering Medicine to Students.


  • The Board congratulated the Early Learning Center for receiving the Gold Circle of Quality, indicating that the program met the highest standards for quality in three areas: learning environment and teaching, administration, and training and education. Gold Circle programs are actively engaged in continuous quality improvement.

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 7:48 p.m. for employment/appointment and student matters.

District 54 expands Student Ambassadors to elementary schools

A good role model. A collaborator. A helper. Someone who has integrity. These are just a few of the leadership characteristics identified by District 54’s new elementary school Student Ambassadors during their first training sessions this fall.  

“I am excited to represent the school in a positive way and have a voice,” said Leilani, a sixth grade Lakeview Student Ambassador. “I really want to make the school the best place it can be and make it a sanctuary for all students, even on their hardest days. I can’t wait to set up a positive culture for younger students so they can have a great life here at Lakeview.”

With the success of the seventh and eighth grade Student Ambassadors last year, the district has expanded the program to include third through eighth grade, bringing the number districtwide to more than 600 students. 

Throughout the 2019-20 school year Student Ambassadors from each elementary school and Lincoln Prairie will participate in three leadership training sessions with a District 54 instructional mentor. They will also meet with their school sponsors about Student writing mission statementtwice a month to carry out leadership activities, help with school assemblies, promote kindness and perform acts of service. The Student Ambassadors will shape what the program looks like at their school.

“The energy, excitement and leadership from this group of students has been powerful to witness,” Associate Superintendent Erin Knoll said. “Even as early as 8 years old, we are seeing students excited to create the optimistic, positive, accepting school culture that allows them to succeed academically and personally.”

During their first meetings, the elementary Student Ambassadors have been getting to know one another; reflecting on leadership, key character qualities and the role of the Student Ambassadors; and thinking about ways they can help make their school a better place. 

The Hoover Student Ambassadors said they want to make sure everyone is included, feels happy and listens to one another.  

Instructional Mentor Michelle Felice, who led the Hoover training, asked why listening is key. 

“So we can hear new ideas,” one student said. 

“So we can make others feel important,” another added.  

After the first training Grace, a Hoover fifth grade Student Ambassador, said she is excited to meet new people, collaborate with other students and spread happiness. 

“I’m excited about everything, because even though it’s only the first day of Student Ambassadors it seems like it’s going to be a pretty great year,” said Betselot, a Hoover third grade Student Ambassador.

Zach, a fifth grade Lakeview Student Ambassador, said he plans to be a role model at all times by leading at school, on the playground and outside of school. 

“I’m excited about being a leader to everybody in the school – helping people, making the school a better place and helping with fundraisers,” said Elia, a third grade Link Student Ambassador.

Stephanie Cahoj, who teaches sixth grade at Lakeview and is sponsoring the school’s Student Ambassadors, said she is excited to help build student leadership capacity.

“The Student Ambassador program will also create more of a sense of community within our schools as the different grade levels work together,” she said. 

Superintendent’s Article: Be a Champion for Students

Every child deserves a champion:  an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.

This statement from former educator Rita Pierson exemplifies our philosophy in School District 54.

We serve more than 15,000 students and I believe all of them need someone in their corner. Someone to seek them out in the hallway and check in with them each day. Someone they can trust. Someone they can turn to when they need support. Someone they see at school each day who is a positive influence on their lives.

On August 15, before the students returned to school, I had the privilege of welcoming more than 2,000 employees to the start of the 2019-20 school year. Employees from 28 schools and the administration center came together in the Willow Creek auditorium

We heard from Inky Johnson, who spoke about how an eighth-grade teacher believed in him and turned his life around. We heard from Thomas C. Murray, who talked about creating a school environment where children want to run back to school the next day.

During this opening day, I asked our staff members to remember why we do what we do. We come to work each day to make a better world for the children we serve. That starts with knowing them as individuals.

On September 18, we had a half day of school in District 54. In the afternoon, after the students were dismissed, at each one of our schools the entire staff sat down together with a chart showing the names of every single child in that school.

They spent the afternoon going through that chart, sharing their connections and what they know about each child so that by the end of the day, we were sure that each one of our more than 15,000 students has a true connection to an adult. Then they talked about how to ensure that the next child who moves into the school is given the same opportunity.

For years in District 54 we have emphasized the need to know every student by name and by need. Who are they as individuals? What makes them unique? What supports do they need to be successful academically and to thrive? But each year we ask ourselves, what can we do better?

Last year we began administering a Universal Screener. The screener requires staff members to take a survey about the District 54 students they serve to determine whether any students need additional social and emotional supports. Staff members have also participated in ACES training (Adverse Childhood Experiences) so that they can be more responsive to students who have faced traumatic events.

District 54 also launched a social emotional learning curriculum last year in early childhood through eighth grade, with a focus on long-term optimism. This fall students, staff and parents will participate in a social-emotional learning survey that will allow us to further support whole child success by listening to the feedback of the students we serve, as well as the adults in their lives – their parents and teachers.

The most important factor in student achievement and social-emotional well-being is the people who connect with our students. I look forward to working with our staff and our families to offer the children in this community the best school year of their lives.

Brief from the Board Meeting on September 19, 2019

The District 54 School Board recognized two groups at its Sept. 19 meeting.

  • District 54 Special Olympics athletes, coaches and volunteers were applauded for their dedication and accomplishments during the 2018-19 school year.
  • A group of 10 employees was thanked for creating a float for the District 54 School Board to use in the Schaumburg Septemberfest parade to highlight District 54’s focus on happiness.

Discussion – Sixth Day Enrollment:
Associate Superintendent Nick Myers presented the Sixth-Day Enrollment Report. This annual report explains the enrollment trends in District 54 and their impact on staffing decisions. District 54 ensures that staffing allocations remain fiscally responsible while also providing our students with exceptional teachers and support personnel who are dedicated to supporting students.

This year, August 26 marked the sixth day of enrollment, a date District 54 uses because we assume that by this day students new to the district will have completed the registration process and students leaving the district will have informed us of their move. For kindergarten and early childhood students, the sixth day was Sept. 3. Our sixth-day enrollment for kindergarten through eighth grade was 14,928, an increase of 264 students over last year. Early childhood enrollments are tracked separately because enrollment occurs throughout the year.

District 54 continues to closely monitor our enrollments and the use of available space in each school. The district has alleviated space issues the past two years through the construction of additions at Churchill, Dirksen and Link. 

Click here to view more detailed enrollment numbers.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session school board meetings on Sept. 5, 2019
  • The resignations, retirement and employment of personnel
  • The treasurer’s report on cash and investments for July 2019
  • The monthly update of revenues and expenditures for August 2019
  • Checks dated Sept. 13, 2019
  • Presentation and submittal of administrator and teacher salary and benefits report
  • Approval of a Medicaid billing agent
  • The purchase of technology equipment, software licensing and support
  • The release of minutes of closed-session school board meetings
  • The destruction of the verbatim records of the closed-session school board meetings held on February 15, February 22, March 1 and March 15, 2018, for which approved minutes already exist.

Superintendent’s Report:
Superintendent Andy DuRoss talked about the rationale for seventh-grade students starting school one day before eighth-grade students. Transitioning from elementary school to junior high school is an important transition. The District 54 junior high schools use this day to form relationships with their new students and to help them prepare for success in junior high.

DuRoss spoke about the start of the 2019-20 school year, and the inspirational messages our staff heard this year from Inky Johnson, Thomas C. Murray, John O’Leary and Shawn Achor, which have had a ripple effect throughout our district. District 54 staff are focused on being champions for their students.

DuRoss also shared two #WeAre54 videos, highlighting the people in District 54 who make this a special place to learn and work. Click on each name to watch the videos about Mead student Maya Cronfel and Barbara Velez from the District 54 Welcome Center.

District 54 Foundation Report:
Board Vice President Mary Kay Prusnick thanked the volunteers who helped the Foundation raise funds by parking cars or selling food at the Village of Schaumburg’s Septemberfest event. Prusnick also asked everyone to mark their calendars for January 10 when the Windy City Bulls will host a District 54 Foundation takeover night.

New Business: 

  • The Board appointed additional representatives to serve on the District Citizens’ Advisory Committee.
  • The Board approved revisions to the following policies:
    • 4:20 – Fund Balance and
    • 4:270 – Disposal of District Property.

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:12 p.m. to closed session for employment/appointment and student matters.

Brief from the Board Meeting on September 5, 2019

Discussion Item – Social Emotional Health Supports for Students:
Assistant Superintendent Paul Goldberg shared a variety of supports available to students designed to match the challenges they face. Teams of administrators, teachers and support staff collaborate to determine which proactive approach would best serve each child. Some of the resources include internal supports such as the guidance staff, as well as external resources such as the Kenneth Young Center and area hospitals.

We offer support and interventions through our Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) systems. Last year we began administering a Universal Screener. The screener requires staff members to take a survey about the District 54 students they serve to determine whether any students need additional social and emotional supports. Staff members have also participated in ACES training (Adverse Childhood Experiences) so that they can be more responsive to students who have faced traumatic events.

District 54 also launched a social emotional learning curriculum last year in early childhood through eighth grade, with a focus on long-term optimism. This fall students, staff and parents will participate in a social-emotional learning survey that will allow us to further support whole child success. We also offer digital citizenship lessons so students know how to navigate the online world safely.

Discussion Item – Crisis Planning and Prevention:
The safety and security of our students and staff is a top priority. District 54 takes all reports seriously and investigates them thoroughly.

Executive Director of Community Relations Terri McHugh shared information about the District 54 standardized crisis plan, which includes a variety of scenarios and mandated training for all staff. Each school is required by Illinois School Code to conduct three fire drills, one bus evacuation drill, one tornado drill and one lockdown drill. These help to ensure our students and employees know what to do should an emergency occur. The feedback from our local police and fire departments, who attend our drills, is that our students and staff are well prepared.

District 54 also has a plan for crisis response and communication. The first priority is communicating to the students and staff at the schools affected to ensure their safety. District 54 will always notify families of lockdowns, evacuations, relocations and significant weather events that impact the child’s day. For medical situations, the district only notifies the parties involved.

Public Comment: No one asked to speak.

Freedom of Information Act Requests: Five requests were received and responded to since the last report to the Board regarding transportation contracts, enrichment activities at three schools, purchasing records and photos or renderings of time out rooms.

Consent Agenda:  The School Board approved the following items on the Consent Agenda.

  • The minutes of the regular and closed-session school board meetings on August 8, 2019
  • The resignations, employment and salary adjustments of personnel
  • Checks dated August 16 and 30, 2019
  • A recommendation to authorize the assistant superintendent of business operations to negotiate a 2- or 3-year contract for electricity
  • A memorandum of understanding with The Kenneth Young Center

New Business: 

  • The Board approved revisions to the following policies:
    • 4:140(b) – Waiver of Fees for Low Income Families,
    • 4:170(c) – Emergency Closing of Schools (Prior to the Beginning of the School Day),
    • 4:170(d) – Emergency Closing of School(s)(When School is in Session) and
    • 4:170(e) – Building Access Security.
  • The Board brought revisions to the following policies for a first reading:
    • 4:20 – Fund Balance and
    • 4:270 – Disposal of District Property.


  • Board members Mary Kay Prusnick and Barb Hengels have maintained master board status and Board President Bob Kaplan has leveled up.
  • Board members also praised the amazing students and their teachers who performed in the musical concerts at Septemberfest last weekend.
  • The Board thanked the volunteers who parked cars or worked in the food tent to raise funds for the District 54 Education Foundation.
  • They also thanked the employees who created the float for the School Board and participated with the Board.
  • Board members praised the presenters at New Teacher Induction Week.

Closed Session: The Board adjourned at 8:27 p.m. to closed session for the semi-annual review of closed-session minutes.

District 54 announces seven Those Who Excel Awards

District 54 is proud to announce the following recipients of the 2019 Illinois State Board of Education’s Those Who Excel Awards.

  • Chris Bingen, principal of Addams Junior High School, won in the Administrator category.
  • Sue Budak, a District 54 Education Foundation trustee and past president of the Schaumburg Township Council of PTAs, won in the Community Volunteer category.
  • Cynthia Christian, a paraprofessional at John Muir Literacy Academy, won in the Educational Service Personnel category.
  • The 2018-19 Eisenhower Junior High School guidance team of Melissa Hemzacek, Melinda Perez, Monica Bhatia, Krishna Patel and Julie Goolish won in the Team category.
  • Laurie Konkey, a language arts teacher at Keller Junior High School, won in the Classroom Teacher category.
  • Sara Maduzia, a literacy coach at Armstrong Elementary School, won in the Student Support Personnel category.
  • Katherine Massingill, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Dooley Elementary School, won in the Early Career Educator category.

Chris Bingen

Chris Bingen with teachersWhether it is problem-solving how to support struggling students or planning engaging and innovative lessons, Addams Junior High Principal Chris Bingen is always supportive of new ideas and ready to help in any way he can. If Chris thinks something will help students, he will find a way to make it happen. He truly embodies the “culture of yes.” A sign of a true leader is the ability to listen, and some of the key people Chris listens to is his students. Chris takes student feedback very seriously and regularly meets with his student Principal Advisory committee to consider what broad school changes should be made. Chris views student success as both academic and social/emotional growth and achieves this growth by fostering trusting relationships with students, staff, parents and the community.

Sue Budak

Sue Budak thanking everyoneSue Budak has been a dedicated volunteer in Schaumburg School District 54 since her son Rob’s first days in elementary school in 2006, and even though he moved on to high school four years ago, Sue continues to serve District 54. Sue has spent countless hours over the years as a volunteer with the District 54 Education Foundation and with the PTA, where she has served as PTA Council Chair and Reflections Chair. In addition to volunteering her time, Sue recently gave two generous donations to benefit District 54 students. She donated $9,000 to the Foundation for STEM education in memory of her husband Mark, and $10,000 toward the purchase of Orange Frog books with District 54 study guides for every District 54 family.

Cynthia Christian

Cynthia Christian with a classCynthia Christian has the ability to make strong connections with everyone she encounters in her role as a paraprofessional at Muir Literacy Academy. She does whatever it takes to meet the needs of students, and is incredibly supportive of her colleagues, as well. Cynthia runs the Breakfast Club at Muir, feeding children from financially struggling families a healthy meal and connecting with them on a personal level each day. She also gives up her lunch each day to serve as the head lunch supervisor. She came to value this time as one where she could build relationships with students while simultaneously supporting their needs and setting high expectations to help them be successful.

Eisenhower Guidance Team

The Eisenhower Guidance team with studentsThe Eisenhower Junior High Guidance Team models what it means to support the whole child by developing positive relationships with students. In addition to their daily work with children, team members organize events to support the whole child, such as a basket brigade to provide Thanksgiving meals and a holiday event where students could shop for their families. They also provide professional development to staff regarding how students are affected by the challenges in their lives. They taught strategies that enabled staff to build caring and supportive relationships with students, while still holding students to high standards. Essentially, they created a culture at Eisenhower where students are served with a compassionate heart.

Laurie Konkey

Laurie Konkey with studentsLeadership is influence, and Laurie Konkey’s influence extends far outside the walls of her language arts classroom at Keller Junior High School. She connects with students and staff through a variety of roles, including as Interact Club sponsor and Student Ambassador leader. Laurie always comes up with creative ways to bring together the Keller community and goes to great lengths to show she cares. Most recently, she planned an early private graduation ceremony for student whose mother was terminally ill, enabling the mother to experience her daughter’s graduation. Laurie is the type of teacher that knows the name and need of countless children within our building, regardless if they are her student or not.

Sara Maduzia

Sara Maduzia with studentsWhether teaching engaging lessons to students, supporting her colleagues to create high-quality lessons, sponsoring clubs and events or leading the District 54 Extended School Year program for special education students during the summer, Armstrong Literacy Coach Sara Maduzia’s dedication to student success is never ending. During the day, she works with kindergarten, first- and second-grade students – and their teachers – to develop strong literacy skills. However, her commitment to Armstrong students and their families is even more evident in the way she uses her free time during the day and after-school to connect with students and their families individually, or through school clubs and activities.

Katie Massingill

Kate Massingill with studentsDistrict 54 is focused on elevating experiences for students, and Dooley fifth- and sixth-grade teacher Katie Massingill has truly brought this to life. Although she is only in her fourth year of teaching, Katie has shown her leadership through working with student ambassadors, promoting positivity, developing strong relationships with her students and families, and encouraging innovative instruction with her team and students. Katie is also known for her collaboration with her colleagues and for her willingness to take risks with her instruction in order to best engage her students in learning. Her students have been on virtual reality field trips, developed their own podcasts, and worked collaboratively to show their mastery of skills. With Katie’s passion and energy, she is sure to lead the way in education for many years to come.

The Illinois State Board of Education will honor all District 54 representatives during its annual Those Who Excel banquet on Oct. 19 in Normal, Illinois.