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Excellence in Education Awards Recognize Educators in DeKalb County

On Monday, March 11, 2019, the DeKalb County Community Foundation and DeKalb County Regional Office of Education recognized five educators during a special 20th anniversary Excellence in Education Awards reception at Kishwaukee College. Recipients were from Genoa-Kingston, Hiawatha, Somonauk, and Sycamore school districts. See ALL photos from the Excellence in Education Awards reception!

Established in 1999 by retired Sycamore elementary school teacher Yvonne Johnson, the Excellence in Education Awards recognize teachers, administrators, and support staff who have inspired a love of learning in students and play an active role in their schools and communities in DeKalb County. Support for the awards celebration comes through an endowed fund created by Yvonne at the DeKalb County Community Foundation. Winners receive a check for $1,000, an engraved clock, and personalized medallion.

This year, the event celebrated a milestone and featured guest speakers Tom Weber, Dick Ubl, Ron Klein, and Connie Worden. Tom Weber, former DeKalb County Regional Superintendent of Schools, set the tone with a few special remarks including, “Over the past 20 years, the Excellence in Education Awards program has made a tremendous impact. Through this partnership, $99,000 in awards have been given out to 99 educators from 9 different communities, impacting the lives of thousands of students across our county. Thank you to Yvonne Johnson for her generosity and for her desire to recognize quality educators in our community.”

Recipients of the 2019 Excellence in Education Awards in each of the five categories are:

  • Pre-K – 5th Grade Teacher: Kara Christensen, Hiawatha Elementary School, 2nd grade teacher
  • 6th – 8th Grade Teacher: Andrea Qualls Laben, Genoa-Kingston Middle School, 6th grade science teacher
  • 9th – 12th Grade Teacher: Tara Wilkins, Genoa-Kingston High School, Librarian
  • Support Staff: Ashley McNurlan, James R. Wood Elementary (Somonauk), Administrative assistant
  • Administration: Mark Ekstrom, Southeast Elementary (Sycamore), Principal

For questions, please contact Community Foundation Grants Director Tiffany McQueen Lewis at 815-748-5383 or tiffany@dekalbccf.org.

Learn more about the Excellence in Education Awards.

Pictured from left to right: Andrea Qualls Laben, Genoa-Kingston Middle School Teacher; Kara Christensen, Hiawatha Elementary School Teacher; Tara Wilkins, Genoa-Kingston High School Librarian; Mark Ekstrom, Southeast Elementary (Sycamore), Principal; Ashley McNurlan, James R. Wood Elementary Administrative Assistant; and Yvonne Johnson, Donor.

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