Excellence in Education Awards
Awarded annually, the Excellence in Education Awards honor excellent teachers, administrators, and support staff in DeKalb County. Created in 1999 through the generosity of Yvonne Johnson, retired elementary school teacher in the Sycamore School District, this endowed fund provides the opportunity to highlight those who are making a positive difference in our schools.
Nominations are a joint effort from teachers, administrators, and the community. The program recognizes those who are respected, inspired the love of learning in students, and admired for playing an active role in their schools and communities. Recipients receive a $1,000 award, a clock, and a medallion.
If education is an area of interest for you, consider giving a gift to help us grow the DeKalb County Excellence in Education Endowment fund. Your gift will allow for further growth in recognizing those who go above and beyond in education to help others.
From left to right: Amanda Christensen, DeKalb County Regional Superintendent; Yvonne Johnson, Philanthropist; Jonathan Liechty, Recipient; Shelly Tripp, Recipient; Kendra Brauer, Recipient; Barb Evenson, Recipient; Ryan Janisch, Recipient; Dan Templin, DeKalb County Community Foundation Executive Director. See additional Award Night photos.
Kendra Brauer, 2nd Grade Teacher, Kingston Elementary School
Looking back, Kendra had an early interest in teaching and even taught a lesson on the Transcontinental Railroad to her peers in 11th grade. As a 2nd grade teacher at Kingston Elementary, she loves to transition her students from “Learning to Read” to “Reading to Learn."
“Students in Mrs. Brauer’s classroom are all very well behaved. Her classroom management is exceptional; expectations are set high, yet attainable for all students.” - Stacia Hale, Colleague
Barb Evenson, Support Staff, Paraprofessional and Custodian, Hiawatha High School
In her free time, Barb is a passionate quilter who often donates her creations to community fundraisers and homeless families through her church. Out of a love for education, she started a book club for students at Hiawatha High School to encourage and spread the joy of reading.
“Barb is also a mainstay in our community. If she’s not organizing behind the scenes, she’s sitting in the stands or walking down the street. Barb is a special person who has made our school and community her family.” - Connie Worden, Retired Teacher
Shelly Tripp, 6th Grade Math Teacher, Sandwich Middle School
Shelly is a an inspiration to her students through her joyful personality and positive attitude. As a National Board Certified Teacher, Shelly mentors other faculty interested in attaining National Board Certification. She continues to show her commitment to education through her 10 years of service on the Sandwich Education Foundation board.
“Whenever I still see Mrs. Tripp she is always laughing and being joyful. She is always really nice and I am glad I got to have her as a teacher.” - Paige Sartori, Former Student
Jonathan Liechty, High School Social Studies and History Teacher, Somonauk High School
As a high school history teacher with a passion for education, Jonathan established the Liechty Library – a collection of nonfiction books available for his students to reserve. Since establishing the library in 2014, over 100 books have been checked out. In 2012, for the first time in school history, Jonathan brought AP U.S. History to Somonauk High School.
“I realize that what I say and do is constantly under the scrutiny of my students and I want to be for them an excellent example of what it means to do work, marriage, family, faith, finances, fitness, friendship, following, leading, decision making, rest, aging, and all of life well and wisely.” - Jonathan Liechty
Ryan Janisch, Principal, North Grove Elementary School, Sycamore School District
Ryan started out by teaching physical education in the Burlington School District, but was later promoted to Dean of Students and Athletic Director before joining Sycamore School District as Principal at North Grove School. To further promote education to the students at North Grove, Ryan created after school clubs that serve over 250 students.
“The administration made the right choice in hiring Mr. Janisch to cultivate and grow this school into what it is today: an outstanding example for all elementary schools.” - Erica Snodgrass, North Grove School Parent