Forest Elementary School’s gymnasium was packed with District 62 faculty, administrators, their families and friends, parents, students and others to honor the 2012 Lighthouse Award recipients on Monday. The district gives the annual awards to honor district employees for outstanding contributions.
Mindy Ward, community relations director, Brenda Murphy, president of the board of education, and Dr. Jane Westerhold, superintendent of schools, presented the awards to about 20 recipients to a thunderous applause.
“The Lighthouse Award honors achievement and excellence in education, particularly with how this year’s nominees had affected the curriculum, student learning, learning environments, staff morale and community,” Ward told the crowd.
Administrators, faculty and staff were nominated for the awards by their peers in a number of categories, including school administrator, educational support personnel and classroom teacher.
Barbara Zachwieja is, as she put it, “a product of District 62.” Zachwieja went to school in District 62 as a child, and has taught fifth and sixth graders at Cumberland Elementary School for 24 years.
Zachwieja said receiving the Lighthouse Award for classroom teacher meant a lot to her.
“[This award] means that people recognize that I’m trying to give back to my home community,” Zachwieja said.
She said it was meaningful, also, that the recipients were nominated by people they worked with and the board of education, and that family and friends were at the event.
“It’s just very personal,” Zachwieja said.
Several recipients, one from each category, will represent the district in Springfield for the statewide Those Who Excel Awards Program in the fall, which also recognizes outstanding contributions.