Seven of Flossmoor School District 161’s retirees were formally honored by the board of education and their respective principals during the last week of the school year.
“These are people who are very special to us,” Superintendent Dana Smith said, before letting principals take the floor during a meeting held Tuesday, May 25, to recognize the teachers.
Western Avenue Elementary School Principal Gina Isabelli spoke first, bidding farewell to Lauren Crescenti, a paraprofessional who has done that job for 17 years, and Judy Kubas,a 34-year art educator for District 161.
Isabelli called Crescenti “super-reliable” and a source of “constant energy.” “Above and beyond is what I have seen Lauren do every day at Western Avenue,” Isabelli said.
The principal said Kubas is defined by the word “dedicated.” “She is dedicated to do what is best for students, families and staff, and at all times,” Isabelli said. “No matter what arises, Judy will be there to help problem solve and find a solution.”
Amabel Crawford, principal of Parker Jr. High School, started by recognizing JoAnna Spevacek, an art teacher who focuses on grades 6-8.
“JoAnna is a fantastic champion of the arts at Parker Junior High School and has been for many, many years,” Crawford said. “JoAnna is someone who takes art education so seriously.”
Crawford also recognized DeLores Mannes, a sixth-grade English Language Arts teacher, and Lisa Morrow, sixth-grade science teacher. Their careers have long been intertwined.
“Individually, you are both amazing,” Crawford told the teachers. “Together, you are a force.”
She further noted she has valued Morrow’s honest opinions, calling her “outspoken but with care.” She also called Morrow a “champion for our students.”
“You are one of the reasons that I wanted to come to Parker,” Crawford said.
She added of Mannes that the teacher formed great relationships with her students. Her work was always about more than just reading and writing, according to Crawford.
“She makes those connections with students that will truly last a lifetime,” Crawford said.
Flossmoor Hills Elementary School Principal Haley Marti honored Carol Creed, a third-grade teacher, as well as Larnie Jones, a social worker. She called Creed “incredibly dedicated” to her students.
“She truly cares about the whole child and that has never been clearer than this past year,” Marti said. “She’ll do anything for her students and their families. … She’s made a difference in so many students’ lives.”
She closed her comments by recognizing Jones.
“I wish that I could bottle up his patient, calming nature,” Marti said. “He is there for the students. … He is such a calming influence. The students love Mr. Jones.”
Each teacher received a gift bag and sign that read “School’s out forever” from the district.
“We try to tell teachers how much we love them, but it’s never enough,” Smith said.
One night only
Former D161 School Board President Michelle Hoereth was back in the boardroom, if only for one evening, as the current board recognized her service. Hoereth served the board from 2015 until earlier this month, when she resigned after winning a seat with the Homewood-Flossmoor High School District 233 Board of Education.
“It is an incredible honor to serve in this capacity,” Hoereth said. “I really just did it because I believe in the possibility of students.”
Hoereth added that she hopes she had a positive influence on the district.
“The work of the board is never done, but the hope is that with each board we’ve made an impact,” Hoereth said. “I love this district. I could not imagine raising my kids in any other place in the world.”