District 58’s Sarah Brost and Diane Peterson win 2020 Distinguished Services Awards

Education Foundation honors 31 nominees representing all D58 schools 

Diane Peterson

The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 proudly announces that O’Neill Eighth Grade Social Studies Teacher Sarah Brost and Henry Puffer Secretary Diane Peterson will receive the 2020 District 58 Distinguished Service Award.

The Education Foundation’s Distinguished Service Award, or DSA, program annually invites the community to submit an essay nominating an exceptional District 58 staff member for this honor. This year, 31 District 58 employees received nominations from parents/guardians, students and colleagues. The winners were selected by a committee that reviewed and scored each nomination on a blind basis (identifiable information was removed from each nomination essay). Each year, the committee selects two DSA winners: a teacher and a staff member.

Sarah Brost

“Congratulations to Mrs. Brost and Mrs. Peterson on earning this year’s Distinguished Service Award! You both embody District 58’s mission and care for our students each and every day. Thank you for your service,” said Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell. “I am also incredibly proud of all 31 DSA nominees. Thank you for your dedication to our students and community!”

“We are honored to give this DSA recognition to District 58 employees who work tirelessly and are committed to provide a high level of positive character and compassion,” said Education Foundation President Janet Alikpala. “It’s times like these we need to look to individuals in the school community that lead with kindness and care, and these nominees and awardees are very deserving of their recognition.” 

Typically, the Education Foundation celebrates the DSA nominees and winners at an awards ceremony, during which time each nominator shares excerpts from their essays. Due to the pandemic, the in-person ceremony was canceled. Instead, each nominator contributed 8-second videos sharing what makes their nominee special. District 58 edited these excerpts into a 5-minute video celebrating this year’s nominees. View the video.

The nominators also created videos of themselves reading their entire essays aloud, which were directly shared with the nominees. In addition to these videos, this year’s DSA winners received a $100 VISA gift card for personal use, a $100 school grant, a plaque, a certificate, a pin and a copy of their nomination essay. All nominees received a certificate, pin and a copy of their essay.

In addition to Sarah Brost and Diane Peterson, the Education Foundation also honored the following Distinguished Service Award nominees: 

  • Shannon Arnold, Henry Puffer Kindergarten Teacher
  • Jessica Atkins, Herrick Science Teacher
  • Ashley Bidlencik, Kingsley Sixth Grade Teacher
  • Kendall Buege, Grove Children’s Preschool Teacher (Henry Puffer)
  • Jackelyn Cadard, Grove Children’s Preschool Coordinator
  • Hanna Carson, Hillcrest First Grade Teacher
  • Kris Ceas, Herrick Resource Teacher
  • Lisa Czeszewski, Whittier Kindergarten Teacher
  • Tracy deBuhr, Pierce Downer Third Grade Teacher
  • Peggy Delaney, Grove Children’s Preschool Instructional Assistant (Indian Trail)
  • Laura DiPietro, Hillcrest DLP Teacher
  • Nicole Gorman, Kingsley BEST Teacher
  • Nancy Hildreth, Grove Children’s Preschool Teacher (Henry Puffer)
  • Katie Hurckes, El Sierra/Kingsley Interventionist
  • Katherine Lacey, Lester Instructional Assistant
  • Matt Leiser, Lester Second Grade Teacher
  • Kim Musial, Highland Third Grade Teacher
  • Laura Novotny, Lester First Grade Teacher
  • Mallory Poe, Indian Trail Social Worker
  • Katie Porter, Whittier Resource Teacher
  • Lauren Prosser, Hillcrest Second Grade Teacher
  • Marissa Remus, Fairmount Kindergarten Teacher
  • Mari Sitkiewicz, Belle Aire Instructional Assistant
  • Sharlyn Sombeck, Kingsley Kindergarten Teacher
  • Tony Stampfl, Highland Custodian
  • Melissa Swallows, Fairmount Third Grade Teacher
  • Angela Vahle, Highland Teacher Librarian
  • Cathi Wunderlich, Lester Instructional Assistant
  • Ericka Zagorski, Whittier Sixth Grade Teacher

Congratulations to the 2019-20 Distinguished Service Award winners and nominees! View a celebratory video.