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High School District 214 Honors 2020-21 Distinguished Service Award Winners

High School District 214 Honors 2020-21 Distinguished Service Award Winners

The High School District 214 Board of Education honored nine individuals with the District’s Distinguished Service Awards. The awards are given annually to people who have made significant contributions to the District and its students.

“We could not do the work that we do in preparing students for future success without the support of community members who assist in so many different ways,” said Board President Dan Petro in announcing the awards. “While there is, unfortunately, no way to adequately recognize the contributions of all individuals, we are pleased to spotlight the work of these eight people who truly have gone above and beyond to assist in our mission.”

The 2020-21 Distinguished Service Awards honorees are:

Kathy Cole was honored for her leadership in the Buffalo Grove High School Parent Association, Friends of the Orchestra, Buffalo Grove Instrumental Association and in her service as the Bison Booster Vice President. Whether it be setting up restaurant fundraiser nights, collecting and distributing donations for the Summer Break Bach program or helping organize the BGPA fundraising events, Cole is always eager to help. Last year, when the Orchestra began its Summer Break Bach initiative of bringing food and music lessons to all, Cole was essential to its success. Beyond donating food and funds, she recognized the logistical needs and took action. She gathered donations of grocery bags from local stores, gathered food and funds from neighbors and fellow BGHS families, and aided where possible in distributing the items.

Bill Marston has the busy job of guiding institutions through the import and export process as an owner of Service Shipping Inc., a licensed Customs broker and freight forwarder. Despite the many demands on his time as a businessman, volunteer and leader in the community, Marston makes time to serve as an asset to Elk Grove High School Entrepreneurship students and staff. He has lent a guiding hand with the Entrepreneurship program since its inception and has enriched the experiences of students. He not only shares his expertise with regard to navigating a small business, but also serves as a community champion for the school’s Entrepreneurship program. He provides students guidance, motivation, innovative ideas and constructive feedback on business plans. His sense of humor and ability to connect and establish relationships with students have made him invaluable to Elk Grove High School.

Heidi Sprague was honored for her work with the Fine Arts Department at John Hersey Hersey High School. She has been active in the HIA (Band Boosters), HOYA (Orchestra Boosters) and cap+s (Choir Boosters), serving as board president for HOYA and cap+s. Often Sprague managed the concessions at the speech tournaments for HOYA. She chaired the Food Committee for Chicagoland Showcase, meaning she was  responsible for feeding thousands on one day. In addition, Sprague has helped coordinate costumes for show choirs and musicals. During the pandemic, she has found innovative ways to keep parents and students involved, coordinating, for instance, the distribution of graduates’ yard signs and delivering gifts to fine arts seniors. She also coordinated Happy Hersey Haunt Boulevard, a drive-thru Halloween experience. This spring, Sprague helped coordinate the Hersey Choir Couch Cabaret LiveStream-A-Thon, giving students an opportunity to perform while raising funds for the choir program.   

William Terpins was honored for service to Prospect High School that began during a chance 2019 meeting at a golf outing, when he asked a Prospect administrator about donating clothing and supplies to any Prospect student or family in need. Since then, he has supported the Prospect community by providing gift cards, mattresses, winter coats, gloves, food or anything that a family might need. Terpins has continually checked in to renew his commitment. His anonymous “behind the scenes” acts of kindness have supported many families. Additionally, Terpins championed virtual personal growth opportunities for students during the pandemic, when other activities and athletics were not available.

Dr. Natalia Nieves, the Rolling Meadows Police Department Social Services Outreach Specialist, was honored for her service and outreach to the Rolling Meadows High School community as well as the City of Rolling Meadows. As a resource and partner for Rolling Meadows High School student services team members of counselors, social workers and school psychologists, Nieves assists school families in many ways, whether it be meeting social emotional learning needs, sharing food pantry information or assisting fire victims. One example: As the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring, Rolling Meadows High School started to grow vegetables in its greenhouse, consistent with the school’s intention to make community outreach part of its agriculture program. The school contacted Nieves, who played a vital role in getting vegetables and herbs to community members with some of the greatest needs.

Josh Kinnee was honored for his service to Wheeling High School. For several consecutive Saturdays through the early weeks of this school year - even as temperatures dropped, a group of dedicated individuals from Wheeling High School showed up at Willow Trails Park in Prospect Heights. These individuals volunteered their time to tutor students, help with homework, answer questions for parents and solve technology issues that students and families were facing. All were members of the Wheeling faculty, except one: Josh Kinnee. Every Saturday, Kinnee helped students who struggled in math. Sometimes he would bring the family dog, for students and their younger siblings to pet. Throughout, he supported students and the community.

Specialized Schools - Yeulanda Degala and Rachael Hooker
On March 12, 2020, friends Rachael Hooker and Yeulanda Degala created a Facebook group called Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Arlington Heights. Using compassion and empathy along with networking skills, they organized neighborhoods around anticipated community needs. The next morning their efforts yielded a few hundred responses; by the afternoon, thousands of local individuals offered support. Through this effort, massive amounts of food and resources have been donated and distributed to vulnerable households. One of the group’s ambitious goals was to provide $100 gift cards to each Newcomer Center student. A team of volunteers decorated bags and collected the gift cards, including handwritten letters of encouragement and children's artwork. Neighbors Helping Neighbors not only provided gift cards to all Newcomer students, but also raised enough funds to distribute over $2,000 of additional gift cards to other D214 schools and community members in need.

D214 Community Education: Robbie Schreiber
Robbie Schreiber started volunteering with the Community Education Citizenship Program through Adult Education during the Covid-19 pandemic. For the past year, Robbie has conducted socially distanced one-on-one, in-person mock naturalization interviews to prepare legal permanent residents from all over the world for their U.S. citizenship test and interview. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 85 percent of applicants who don't pass the naturalization test fail the questions from the application portion. That's where Schreiber comes in. She prepares students for the English language and the U.S. Civics tests. This year, she has worked with 88 citizenship students, 32 of whom have already become proud American citizens. Understanding the importance and life-changing consequences that passing this test means to these students, Schreiber generously invests nine hours per week assisting citizenship students in achieving their ultimate goal of becoming U.S. citizens.