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Algonquin-based School District 300 foundation honors educator, employee of year

The School District 300 Foundation for Educational Excellence announced the 2018 Distinguished Educator of the Year and Distinguished Employee of the Year at its annual awards celebration April 27.

Jacobs High School math and computer science teacher Kevin Christian and Gilberts Elementary School social worker Angelina Piotrowski were honored.

The event, held at Lifezone 360 in West Dundee, honored all of the teachers and school employees nominated by each District 300 school, as well as recipients of 2017-18 innovation and large project grants from the foundation.

The District 300 Foundation for Educational Excellence, established in 2002 by a group of community volunteers, seeks to enhance and extend learning opportunities for all District 300 students.

The Distinguished Educator of the Year award recognizes teachers who display innovative instruction techniques to motivate learners, maximize student achievement and help lead colleagues down the path toward exemplary education environments.

Christian has led a dramatic expansion of the school’s computer science courses, growing it into a pathway that continues to attract rising numbers of enthusiastic students.

“He utilizes a student-centered philosophy of education,” Jacobs High School Principal Barb Valle said of the 14-year District 300 veteran. “He routinely has an interactive lecture with his classes, followed by students working on tasks and projects collaboratively for extended periods of time. His entire course activities are detailed on his website, so students are able to work ahead or move at a slower pace depending on where they are at in their learning.

“When students have exhausted all of the computer science courses offered, he encourages them to sign up to do an independent study so that they can continue their learning and passion for the subject.”

Christian also has been working with the Illinois State Board of Education on the implementation of computer science and coding throughout the state.

In addition to teaching computer science and math, Christian is a highly regarded track and cross country coach who has helped a decade’s worth of Jacobs student-athletes set and reach new goals (among them, 2007 Jacobs graduate and Olympian Evan Jager).

The other outstanding Distinguished Educator of the Year nominees were:

• Michelle Bannerman, second-grade teacher, Hampshire Elementary School

• Kari Breese, cross-categorical teacher, Dundee-Crown High School

• Amy Brittain, school psychologist, deLacey Family Education Center

• Sandy Carrozza, psychologist, Dundee Middle School

• Kelli Hager, seventh-grade teacher, Westfield Community School

• Angela Hammond, third-grade teacher, Perry Elementary School

• Jeffrey Herman, science teacher, Oak Ridge School

• Heather Hodal, fifth-grade teacher, Lakewood Elementary School

• Mandi Joplin, speech pathologist, Neubert Elementary School

• Erica Kile, kindergarten teacher, Lake in the Hills Elementary School

• Leslee Kriegel, learning disabilities resource teacher, Gary D. Wright Elementary School

• Sharon Louis, family and consumer sciences teacher, Hampshire High School

• Linda Maher, fourth-grade teacher, Eastview Elementary School

• Noelia Marshall, first-grade teacher, Golfview Elementary School

• Michelle Orchard, school psychologist, Liberty Elementary School

• Misty Palazzo, first-grade teacher, Sleepy Hollow Elementary School

• Ronda Randl, first-grade teacher, Gilberts Elementary School

• Sheree Raue, first-grade teacher, Dundee Highlands Elementary School

• Leon Salgado, second-grade teacher, Meadowdale Elementary School

• Brian Sanford, seventh-grade teacher, Algonquin Middle School

• Jamie Soprych, fourth-grade teacher, Lincoln Prairie Elementary School

• Katie Stachowicz, third-grade teacher, Parkview Elementary School

• Lindsay Wagner, guidance counselor, Carpentersville Middle School

• Jodi Winburn, sixth-grade teacher, Hampshire Middle School

• Kari Zeid-Brandstedt, literacy teacher, Algonquin Lakes Middle School

Angelina Piotrowski, a social worker and positive behavioral intervention and supports coach at Gilberts Elementary School, was named Distinguished Employee of the Year. Gilberts Principal Craig Zieleniewski said Piotrowski is an outstanding resource for teachers and offers vast knowledge regarding how to support students socially and emotionally.

“She can often be seen walking briskly through the hallways on her way to support any situation that may arise in the building. She exhibits patience and care for all students, and student needs are always put first,” Zieleniewski said, adding that Piotrowski makes personal sacrifices daily for her students to make sure that their needs are met by providing one-on-one time, special lunches and other opportunities, and builds rapport with each student.

“She constantly has a smile on her face,” Zieleniewski said, “and brings a positive attitude to her sessions and the entire building.”

Other Distinguished Employee of the Year nominees were:

• Andres Banuelos, daytime custodian, Carpentersville Middle School

• Rick Bockenhauer, custodian, Liberty Elementary School

• Jesse Chavez, technology support supervisor, District Central Office

• Donna Cigrang, registrar, Lake in the Hills Elementary School

• Rosie Conde, family school liaison, Golfview Elementary School

• Carmen Contreras, principal’s secretary, Lakewood Elementary School

• Felix Contreras, night custodian and Aramark chef, Westfield Community School

• Charlene (Char) Gaul, principal’s secretary, Jacobs High School

• Jacqueline Gilly, principal’s secretary, Oak Ridge School

• Cheryl Goode, dean’s secretary, Hampshire High School

• Joan Hansen, office specialist, deLacey Family Education Center

• Catherine Hostetler, cross-categorical paraprofessional, Algonquin Middle School

• Pam Krumsee, special education program assistant, Parkview Middle School

• Donna Maki, L2IFE paraprofessional, Algonquin Lakes Elementary School

• Christina Paniagua, bilingual paraprofessional, Sleepy Hollow Elementary School

• Susan Parker, paraeducator, Neubert Elementary School

• Eileen Parochelli, principal’s secretary, Dundee Highlands Elementary School

• Jill Poremba, cross-categorical paraeducator, Hampshire Elementary School

• Petra Sauceda, custodian, Lincoln Prairie Elementary School

• Lisa Snarski, instructional media paraeducator, Gary D. Wright Elementary School

• Joshua Sosnowski, custodian, Meadowdale Elementary School

• Susie Stanley, library paraprofessional, Dundee Middle School

• Kim Stevenson, school nurse, Eastview Elementary School

• Sharon Super, paraprofessional, Hampshire Middle School

• Sandy Weston, paraeducator, Perry Elementary School

• Jean Ziegler, attendance clerk, Dundee-Crown High School

Christian and Piotrowski each were awarded $500 for their schools’ libraries, donated by Lamp Inc.

For information about the Distinguished Educator of the Year Award, the Distinguished Employee of the Year Award, or any of the foundation grants, email foundation administrative assistant Pat Ehmann at View some of the projects and grants the foundation has funded at

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