Education, Local News

D161 recognizes excellent teachers and staff

The District 161 Board congratulated teachers and staff who received recognition through the Illinois State Board of Education’s Teacher of the Year and Those Who Excel education awards program.  

From left, Gayle Dickerson, Lesa Waishwell, Christina Bollenbacher, Jennifer McLean, Nancy Larocca, Amy Gehrt, Tiffaney Washington, Stephanie Levy, Gina Isabelli, and Superintendent Dana Smith. (Chris Weber/H-F Chronicle)

Lesa Waishwell, a second-grade teacher from Western Avenue Elementary School, was recognized in the Classroom Teacher category. Social worker Gayle Dickerson was recognized for her work in the student support personnel category. The Instructional Coaching team was included in the team category, and Western Avenue Principal Gina Isabelli was in the Administrator category.

Since 1970, the Illinois Board of Education has recognized teachers, staff, and administrators who have made significant contributions to public schools in the state.

“We are lucky to have them,” Superintendent Dana Smith said. “We love our teachers. They develop our kids every day. I am really proud of these people.”


The board also recognized Scott Stachacz and David Fox for their hard work, dedication, and ability to solve unexpected problems in district facilities. Stachacz is the district’s director of Buildings and Grounds. Fox supervises custodians in the school district. They were the #AboveAndBeyond winners for the third quarter of the 2023-24 school year.

From left, Custodian Supervisor David Fox, Associate Superintendent Frances LaBella, Director of Buildings and Grounds Scott Stachacz, and Superintendent Dana Smith. (Chris Weber/H-F Chronicle)

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