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Five DeKalb County teachers recognized for education achievements

DeKALB - Five DeKalb County educators were awarded Monday for their work inspiring a love of learning in their students over the past year.

Teachers in Genoa-Kingston, Hiawatha and Sycamore school districts received awards from the DeKalb County Community Foundation and the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education at a ceremony held at St Mary’s Memorial Hall, 322 Waterman St. in Sycamore.

The annual Excellence in Education Awards are administered through a partnership with the community foundation and ROE. Support for the award comes through an endowed fund at the community foundation created by retired Sycamore elementary school teacher Yvonne Johnson.

“Tonight we get to recognize five excellent educators,” said Amanda Christensen, regional superintendent for the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education.

Three educators in Sycamore School District 427 received awards, including Lisa Winters, Drayton Eggleson and Nicole Stuckert. Karmen Ewald, seventh grade English and Language Arts teacher at Genoa-Kingston Middle School, and Cindy Lauritzen, food service director for Hiawatha School District CUSD 426, also received an Excellence in Education award.

Eggleson is the choir director at Sycamore High School. Stuckert is the assistant superintendent for Business Services/CSBO in the district. Winters, an instructional math coach for District 427, said she was honored to be able to work with teachers in all five elementary schools in Sycamore.

“Anyone of them could be recognized in this way,” Winters said.

For Eggleson, working with students is his highlight.

“The thing that is awesome about even being recognized like this is you don’t do it for accolades. It’s about kids, for me,” Eggleson said. “I am a choir teacher, music teacher. I want to make music cool and fun. The fact that anybody nominated me is just an honor in itself.”

In Genoa-Kingston, Ewald said she was especially grateful for recognition after all the field has endured over the past few years.

“I just finished my 20th year teaching and [have] 19 years in the district,” Ewald said. “This couldn’t have come at a better time with the last couple of years being so difficult. It really encouraged me to continue doing what I am doing.”

Every district in DeKalb County is eligible to nominate a person from different areas. Those areas include a Pre-K through fifth grade teacher, sixth through eighth grade teacher, a high school teacher, a support staff member (e.g. secretaries, classroom aides, custodians, food service, buss drivers and maintenance) and someone from administration.

Nominations are a joint effort from teachers, administrators and the community. The award recognizes respected professionals who inspire a love of learning in students. The award winners also play an active role in their schools and communities.

Winners also received a check for $1,000 and an engraved clock.

“Please look at [these gifts] and remember what they really stand for, and that is our heartfelt gratitude for every positive interaction you have with a student,” Christensen said.

Throughout the 23-year history, the annual event has recognized 114 educators and distributed more than $114,000 in awards.