District 58’s Elynn Cunningham and Katelyn Morgan win the 2018 Distinguished Service Awards

Education Foundation honored 24 DSA nominees during ceremony

The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 hosted its Distinguished Service Awards (DSA) ceremony on Tuesday, May 15 at Ashyana Banquets. This ceremony annually honors those District 58 employees who exceed expectations and serve as inspirations to their community.

“Our nominees range from a preschool teacher to a middle school social worker. Yet, all of our nominees share one common value: a solid dedication to the District 58 community and its students,” said Event Emcee Katie Hurckes, a Henry Puffer teacher and 2017 DSA winner. “Each of their contributions has made a lasting impact on District 58, and more importantly, on the children and families who we serve.”

This year’s Distinguished Service Awards ceremony recognized 24 District employees, who were each nominated by a parent, student or colleague. The ceremony gave each nominator the opportunity to share a few words about what makes their nominee special and deserving of the award.

The event concluded with the announcement of this year’s Distinguished Service Award winners.  

The 2018 DSA winner in the Staff Category is Elynn Cunningham, acting principal of Kingsley School. Cunningham received nominations from the entire Kingsley staff, as well as several current and retired District 58 administrators. Cunningham has served District 58 for nearly 50 years. In addition to her current role, Cunningham has worked as a principal at Lester; an assistant principal at Kingsley, Lester and Pierce Downer; and as a teacher at El Sierra and Pierce Downer.

Cunningham’s nominations demonstrated her knack for forming connections with each and every person she serves, as well as her altruism, support and strong leadership in the face of challenges.

For example, the Kingsley staff nomination of Cunningham noted that “this nominee has an innate sense of what people need, combined with a wealth of experience in the field of education that she uses to help us all every day. We, EVERY ONE of her colleagues in this building, feel blessed to be the beneficiaries of her talents and highly recommend her for the Distinguished Service Award.”

The 2018 DSA winner in the Teacher Category is Katelyn Morgan, who serves as the seventh and eighth grade Behavioral, Emotional and Social Training Program teacher at O’Neill Middle School. Charles Caton, an O’Neill social worker, nominated Morgan for this honor.

Caton’s nomination essay showed how Morgan perseveres to meet her students’ needs, going above and beyond expectations. Morgan has served O’Neill as a special education teacher for seven years.

“She has worked tirelessly with students who have significant educational, social and emotional needs to ensure they not only experience success but also enjoy their time in school,” Caton’s essay reads. “She truly is an exceptional example of what teaching should be. She has a genuine passion for helping others and it is a privilege to call her a friend. Her dedication is inspiring and our district is a better place because of her.”

In addition to Morgan and Cunningham, the Education Foundation also honored the following Distinguished Service Award nominees:

  • Kendall Buege, Grove Children’s Preschool Teacher
  • Jenna Carey, Whittier Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Charles Caton, O’Neill Social Worker
  • Victoria Cosmos, Belle Aire Kindergarten Teacher
  • Katie Cronquist, El Sierra Second Grade Teacher
  • Sara Felker, Whittier Social Worker
  • Julie Iaquinto, El Sierra Third/Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Jane Ingersoll, Herrick & Pierce Downer Speech Language Therapist
  • Kara Jurinek, Whittier Third Grade Teacher
  • Michael Krugman, Whittier Principal
  • Robert Luciano, Fairmount Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Jason Lynde, El Sierra Principal
  • Cheryl Lyons, Whittier Fifth Grade Teacher
  • Alicia Micele, Fairmount First Grade Teacher
  • Kate Nickell, O’Neill Seventh Grade ELA Teacher
  • Diane Peterson, Henry Puffer Secretary
  • Julie Plepel, Retired Whittier Kindergarten Teacher
  • Mallory Poe, Indian Trail Social Worker
  • Ashley Quill, Whittier First Grade Teacher
  • Julie Quinlan, Herrick Eighth Grade Counselor
  • Lindsay Roman, Hillcrest Kindergarten Teacher
  • Melissa Swallows, Fairmount Third Grade Teacher

Congratulations to all of our 2017-18 Distinguished Service Award winners and nominees!

View a video honoring the DSA nominees at https://youtu.be/6g3Ckj4Om4c.