Ten staff members honored for ways in which they have made the world a better place
By Pamela Lannom
“A beacon of hope.”
“A great inspiration.”
“A dedicated and loving advocate.”
These are some of the phrases used to described recipients of the District 181 World Changer awards.
Ten Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 staff members were honored by the District 181 Foundation May 21.
“The awards recognize the above and beyond contributions of District 181 employees,” said Larry Randa, interim co-director of communications, who noted that the program was launched last year. “They highlight truly exceptional work that was so impactful it ‘changed the world’ of a student, colleague, family or the community at large in a positive and deeply meaningful way.”
The 2018 recipients are George Andrikokus, Ryan Cantrell, Jeana Considine, Penny Davey, Mike Duggan, Rosemary Grant, Jen McCredy, Julie Nardulli, Meg Neubauer and Jodie Whitney. They were selected from dozens of nominees by a committee of D181 Foundation Board members and district administrators.
- Andrikokus, director of bands and instrumental music at Hinsdale Middle School, is in his 11th year of teaching, the last two of which have been at HMS. He was nominated by parent Beth Peev and student Lindsey Bruns.
“Mr. Andrikokus never puts himself first,” Lindsey wrote. “He gives us opportunities to achieve excellence because he cares so much about the success of each and every student.”
- Cantrell, a sixth- and seventh- grade science teacher as well as an academic strategies teacher and sixth-grade team leader at CHMS, has been at CHMS for 14 years. He was nominated by the Roberger family.
“Ryan’s professionalism, genuine interest in developing each and every student, caring nature and expectations for greatness are the key components to why he is such an amazing asset to the students, parents and his colleagues in the district,” they wrote.
- Considine, principal of Elm School in Burr Ridge since the 2007-08 school year, came to District 181 as a fifthgrade teacher in 1989. She has been at Elm for all but one of the 28 years she has been with District 181. She was nominated by staff members Kathleen Jirasek, Jill Berry and Mary Jo Guzaldo.
“Everything is a win-win when Jeana is at the helm,” they wrote. “Jeana will retire this year, but her spirit will live on forever in our hearts.”
- Davey, a differentiation specialist at Monroe School in Hinsdale, has been in the district for 20 years. She is a former kindergarten teacher at Monroe and Oak schools and a gifted program teacher at Monroe and Prospect. Parent Marie Strimaitis nominated Davey.
“Mrs. Davey has an insatiable curiosity, which encourages curiosity in her students. She is a thought-provoking questioner and an attentive and respectful listener,” Strimaitis wrote.
- Duggan, D181’s facilities director, oversees all buildings and grounds related matters, from custodial operations through minor and major facilities construction projects. He has been with D181 since 2012, formerly serving as facilities coordinator and evening supervisor. He was nominated by several individuals.
“I feel blessed to have him as a boss,” one nominator wrote.
- Grant, a first-grade teacher at Prospect School in Clarendon Hills, has been with District 181 since 1993 when she began as a substitute teacher. She was nominated by parent Sarah Ryanand student Katherine Koziel.
“Mrs. Grant understands how important helping the world is to me,” Katherine wrote. “She has helped me make my dreams a reality. She gives up her lunch time so that we can work on service projects together.”
- McCredy, a seventh-grade language arts teacher and language arts department leader at Clarendon Hills Middle School, has been with D181 for 15 years. She was nominated by parent Karen Deane.
“From the first time I met Mrs. McCredy at orientation night, I knew my daughter was very lucky to have been assigned this teacher,” she wrote. “You can tell she loves what she does.”
- Nardulli, a specialized teacher at Oak School in Hinsdale, has been with D181 since the 2010-11 school year when she began her career as a long-term substitute. She served as a special education resource teacher for six years before moving into her current position. Parent Fariha DiPasquale nominated Nardulli.
“When you have a child with special needs, you come across some special people,” DiPasquale wrote. “And you get very good at recognizing people’s real character and their motivations to do what they do. And I can’t think of a person with better character and greater motivation to excel as a teacher than Mrs. Nardulli.”
- Neubauer, a school social worker at Madison School in Hinsdale, has been on the D181 team for six years. She was nominated by student Mason Baskel and parents Jennifer Baskel, Brady Cassell and Ana LoDuca.
“She has helped me in so many ways, it’s unbelievable,” Mason wrote. “I love how she come up with so many great ideas and helps me to solve my problems.”
- Whitney, an eighth-grade special educator at Hinsdale Middle School, has been with District 181 for 19 years. She was nominated by student Matthew Brown and staff members Cheryl Esparza and Christopher Reed.
“Mrs. Whitney has a builtin student-annoyance deflector,” Matthew wrote. “She is one of the teachers who can change a kid’s world just by saying hello in the hall.”
All 10 World Changers will receive a special award from the district as well as up to $300 to be used for any kind of professional development or supplies or materials for their work and $75 for personal use. The awards are sponsored by Hinsdale Bank & Trust and the District 181 Foundation.