Huntley’s influential leaders recognized at annual District 158 awards ceremony

Courtesy of:

Mady Borst

On March 14, The Huntley 158 Education Foundation held its second annual Outstanding Educator/Employee Awards Ceremony. The event took place at the Dendrel Ballroom in Del Webb.

The district organization strived to make the ceremony a yearly occasion, in order to recognize educators and employees for their hard work and honorable passion.

“The Education Foundation really wanted to bring an event that could celebrate all of the amazing things our educators and employees do for our students and community each and every day,” Rita Castans said, Director of Huntley 158 Education Foundation. “It is important to recognize the dedication of these special individuals and to take the time to celebrate them.”

Prior to the event, fellow staff members nominate teachers and non-instructional staff members who bring positivity to the school environment.

“One of my favorite days of the school year is being a part of the prize patrol, where we surprise each of our nominees in their classroom,” Castans said. “It is amazing to see the kids light up as their teachers are being celebrated.”

One exceptional educator and employee are given the Distinguished Educator of the Year Award and the Distinguished School Employee of the Year Award, respectively.

Tickets for the event were $25; all the proceeds went to the Huntley 158 Education Foundation. This institution’s mission is to help the district’s students learn, grow, and become leaders.

There was a cash bar from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., followed by a catered dinner from Jameson’s Steakhouse. The awards ceremony started at 6:30.

The Distinguished Educator of the Year Award was given to Gerry Marchand, a science teacher at Huntley High School.

“Receiving the Educator of the Year Award felt weird but nice,” Marchand said. “I feel like I always try really hard to be good at everything I do and that I don’t need to be awarded for it; I already know my peers appreciate me because that’s the kind of culture we have at HHS.”

Marchand believes that awards like the one he received are important for the district.

As far as our students, they deserve 100% effort from us if we expect it from them,” Marchand said. “[The awards] help our staff learn more about others and might give them some inspiration to be better themselves; it also offers a chance for the community to be reminded that we have some really awesome teachers and staff here to serve their families.”

Regina Szpak, a 1:1 Aide at Conley Elementary School, was given the Distinguished School Employee of the Year Award.

All the educators and employees nominated for the distinguished awards are known for enhancing the experience of students in the district. Being attentive and influential to students creates a more enjoyable, meaningful classroom environment.

“My students [former and current] always share their support and appreciation for me and I love them that much more for it,” Marchand said. “For as great as our district is at pretty much everything, our principals, teachers, and staff don’t receive the compensation they deserve, compared to nearby districts that we outperform in basically every single way.”

The Outstanding Educator/Employee Awards Ceremony will continue to be a celebratory, unifying event for the leaders of District 158.