Twelve District 58 staff members with a variety of job titles and responsibilities were honored April 5 at the annual Distinguished Service Awards ceremony sponsored by the District 58 Education Foundation, and two award recipients were announced: Julie Miles in the category of classroom teacher, and Robin Effrein in the category of staff member working in a capacity other than classroom teacher.
Miles, who teaches second grade at , was praised for her ability to inspire and motivate her students, and connect with them on a deep, meaningful level.
“She promotes a positive, welcoming atmosphere throughout her building, and makes learning engaging and interesting. On Valentine’s Day, when it came time for recess, not a single student wanted to go outside because they wanted to keep working on their math assignment about estimating. They were using candy conversation hearts to fill up a big heart printed on paper, and were having too much fun to take a break,” a parent wrote. “A special teacher stays in her student’s heart forever, and I can see that she has been that special teacher for so many children at our school,” wrote another parent.
Miles said she truly loves when a student has an “a-ha” moment, connects content across curricular areas, or is able to apply learned concepts to real-world situations.
“These moments assure me that my students are not only absorbing the information that I teach, but also understanding how important and useful it is to their lives. The best moment of all is making my students smile and knowing that they are having fun while they learn,” Miles said.
Her love of children drew her to the teaching profession, and that profession has helped her to remain young at heart.
“I now consider myself a ‘big kid’ who values and has retained the wonderful qualities of youth:
innocence, enthusiasm, and a constant thirst for knowledge. These qualities allow me to relate to children both personally and professionally,” Miles said. “I was also lucky enough to have some amazing and
influential teachers growing up, who inspired me to live out my dream. I knew I had to spend my life doing what I love!”
Miles said she feels blessed to be a part of such a wonderful community.
“In District 58, we have the perfect combination of hard-working students, supportive parents and a synergetic staff. Each contributor understands his/her role and collaborates with others to ensure student success. This district makes new members feel like family. We really do have something special going on,” she said.
Her favorite memories include watching her students perform a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” at an all-school meeting; hosting an end-of-year party for a class she taught for two consecutive years; and assisting with the variety show and witnessing the immense amount of talent in the students.
Effrein, a Title 1 instructional assistant at , was praised for her generous, caring nature.
“She has done so much for our school, and makes so many happy. She also makes many students have something to look forward to when they come to school,” wrote two sixth-grade students.
“The rapport she has with her students is a tribute to the kind of teacher she is. She cares about the students’ whole being, not just their educational progress. This nominee is one of the most outwardly-minded people I know,” wrote a colleague.
Effrein said she has been at Indian Trail since this year’s sixth-graders were in kindergarten, and it has been a privilege to get to know them and their families over the years. She not only has the opportunity to teach reading, but also to get involved in other areas such as the school-wide Teams Against Mean Encounters program, knitting club, and Bucks for Bananas. With all of these activities, Effrein has so many students who want to have lunch with her that she now has a sign-up for the different activities she does with the students, a colleague wrote in her nomination.
“The students come up with the ideas, and I just sort of guide them in the right directions. Their excitement makes my job easy,” Effrein said. “Over the years my colleagues have become dear friends, and my students never cease to amaze me with their enthusiasm. I love how they all come together to help and support a fellow student.”
Also honored at this year's ceremony for going above and beyond in their service to students; caring about the whole child; and having a positive impact on students, having been nominated by parents, students and/or district staff members were:
•Craig Kubinski, head custodian
•Emma Moncure, head custodian
•Ginny Lauterbach, teacher of the gifted
•Kelly Farrow, LRC director
•Maria Ramirez and Mike Murphy, head custodian and night custodian
•Megan Winthrop, language arts and reading teacher/department chair
•Randy Janousek, O’Neill Middle School assistant principal
•Sandy Leff, Indian Trail fifth-grade teacher
•Taffy Sanger, Indian Trail LRC director
“The contributions of each nominee are so unique and so supportive of the mission of District 58 and the Education Foundation. Each nominee is amazing and highly regarded, and each sets a higher standard for all employees of the district,” said District 58 Education Foundation Past President Greg Bedalov, who emceed the well-attended event during which parents, colleagues and students shared heartfelt thoughts about the staff members they had nominated. Each nominee received a District 58 Education Foundation polo shirt and a plaque, and the DSA recipients also got a $250 grant for their building and a personal Visa gift card donated by Community Bank of Downers Grove.