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District 153 recognizes outstanding staff, teachers with Morin Awards

Homewood District 153 presented the Jerry Morin Educational Excellence Award to six staff members for their outstanding efforts during the 2020-21 school year.

The awards, given at the school board’s Oct. 12 meeting, are presented to a teacher or staff member who has shown outstanding commitment to student achievement.

“In addition to our teachers and certified staff, we recognize support staff who play a critical role in our buildings,” Superintendent Scott McAlister said. “There is an army of adults who care for and nurture our kids every day, and so we’re really excited to recognize them.


“Teaching is a really, really challenging job in the best of circumstances, and we all know the circumstances of last year continuing on into this year it has been even more so, so we’re excited to recognize these staff members.”

District 153 School Board President Shelly Marks; Nancy Wood, Willow School assistant principal; Willow honorees Lisa Rost, school interventionist, and Gail Straney, school nurse; Willow School Principal Melissa Lawson; and Superintendent Scott McAlister. (Provided photo)

At Willow School, Lisa Rost, school interventionist, was recognized for her efforts at handling assessments for students so they can get the services they need. She develops projects around curricula to help students grasp concepts, and is considered an outstanding team member, said Principal Melissa Lawson.

Gail Straney, school nurse, was honored for her handling many jobs and extending her work day to complete them. Besides the usual records of students’ physicals, her concern for students’ health and being the caring person handling all the small and big health emergencies, Straney has now taken on responsibility for the SHIELD testing, a COVID-19 infection measurement, Lawson said.

District 153 School Board President Shelly Marks; Churchill School Principal Sara Schnoor; Churchill honorees Mike Carr, assistant to the dean of students, and Jillian Sosnowski, fifth grade teacher; Superintendent Scott McAlister.. (Provided photo)

At Churchill School, Mike Carr, assistant to the dean of students, was recognized for his outstanding efforts at building relationships with students over the past six years and being a champion for them. He also steps up to take on jobs as needed, said Principal Sara Schnoor.

Jillian Sosnowski, a fifth grade teacher at Churchill, was recognized as a masterful teacher who has made a great impact at Churchill during her two years on staff. She has been able to build relationships with not only her co-workers, but also with the students and parents at Churchill, Schnoor said.

James Hart School Principal Kimberly Johnson with honorees Liz Binnendyk, sixth grade teacher, and Julie Bidwell, instructional assistant; School Board President Shelly Marks; Superintendent Scott McAlister. (Provided photo)

At James Hart School, instructional assistant Julie Bidwell has been a help to anyone who needs assistance going above and beyond her assigned duties. She easily made adjustments due to COVID-19 impacts on Hart activities, and helped others adapt to the new circumstances, said Principal Kimberly Johnson.

Hart School sixth grade teacher Liz Binnendyk is a specialist in both English/Language Arts and social studies and has shared her expertise with staff at both Hart and Churchill when the district adopted a new ELA curriculum. She also was a staff member for the summer writing program, said Johnson.

School Board President Shelly Marks said the district benefits from these outstanding staff members and is glad to recognize them. She added that all staff in the district have given much the last school year and continue to do outstanding work for the benefit of District 153 students.

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