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On Wednesday, July 14, the DeKalb County Community Foundation and DeKalb County Regional Office of Education recognized local educators and support staff during the annual Excellence in Education Awards reception. Recipients were from Genoa-Kingston, Hiawatha, and Sycamore school districts. Over the past 22 years, the event has recognized 109 educators and distributed $109,000 in awards.

DeKalb County Community Foundation, Excellence in Education

2021 Excellence in Education Award Recipients from left: Lynn Reilley, Brittany Foster, Yvonne Johnson (donor), Holly Majerus, Justin Hames, Kori Mauch

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 comes through an endowed Fund at the Community Foundation created by retired Sycamore elementary school teacher Yvonne Johnson. Winners receive a check for $1,000, an engraved clock, and a personalized medallion. Thank you to Yvonne Johnson for her generosity and desire to recognize quality educators in our community!

During this year’s event, Regional Superintendent Amanda Christensen remarked, “Excellence emerges in many forms, especially during adversity, as we have seen over the past two years. I challenge you all to remain excellent to all of your students, their families, your colleagues, your own families, and yourself.”

Recipients of the 2021 Excellence in Education Awards in each of the five categories are: 

  • Pre-K – 5th Grade Teacher: Holly Majerus, Reading Specialist, Southeast Elementary School, Sycamore
  • 6th – 8th Grade Teacher: Justin Hames, Science Teacher, Sycamore Middle School
  • 9th – 12th Grade Teacher: Brittany Foster, Special Education Teacher, Genoa-Kingston High School
  • Support Staff: Kori Mauch, Certified School Nurse – Sycamore CUSD #427
  • Administration: Lynn Reilley, Director of Student Services, Sycamore High School 

Recipients of the 2020 Excellence in Education Awards also attended the reception and were recognized. With events canceled due to COVID-19 last year, winners were announced online and through a formal press release. 

DeKalb County Community Foundation, Excellence in Education

2020 Excellence in Education Award Recipients from left: Joshua Dodge, Jami Thompson, Yvonne Johnson (donor), Lisa Miller, Michelle Petersen. Nick Reineck not pictured.

Recipients of the 2020 Excellence in Education Awards were: 

  • Pre-K – 5th Grade Teacher: Jami Thompson, 5th Grade Teacher, West Elementary School, Sycamore
  • 6th – 8th Grade Teacher: Lisa Miller, ESL Teacher, Hiawatha Jr/Sr High School 
  • 9th – 12th Grade Teacher: Joshua Dodge, Agricultural Instructor/FFA Advisor, Hiawatha Jr/Sr High School 
  • Support Staff: Michelle Petersen, Support Staff, Hiawatha CUSD #426
  • Administration: Nick Reineck, Assistant Principal, Sycamore High School

 “This year, probably more than any other, educators were challenged and pushed,” said Community Foundation Grants Director Tiffany McQueen Lewis. “Despite the many challenges, these recipients not only rose to the occasion but also exceeded expectations. Their passion, creativity, and selflessness showed excellence at its best. We are so proud to showcase their talent and celebrate their impact.”

Learn more about the Excellence in Education Award Recipients >

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