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Several U-46 employees recognized for awards

By Seth Hancock
  Several employees of School District U-46 were recognized by the Board of Education at its meeting on Monday, April 23.
  Natalie Simons, a health teacher and assistant athletic director at Bartlett High School, was named the 2018 Educator of the Year by the Illinois School Health Association at its conference in Naperville earlier in April.
  “I love what I do, and I’m in a great building,” Simons said. “I also want to acknowledge I’m honored to receive this. I work in great company with several, a lot of health teachers in our district both at the middle school and the high school who could have easily achieved this, so I am truly humbled by this.”
  Simons said she’s been with the district for 19 years starting at Larkin High School, and her focus with students is teaching the importance of health.
  “I tell my students the first day that they walk into my class ‘it’s the most important class you’ll ever take,’” Simons said. “So that’s the challenge to try to get them to buy into the importance of their health and wellbeing now as a teenager and then obviously quality of life as an adult.”
  Simons added: “I’m passionate about what I do. I have fun in the classroom with the kids, always changing the lesson plans because I’d never want to see a kid bored or nodding off. I take that personally. I’ve got to do a better job at engaging my students and getting them hands on and getting them to buy into the importance of their health.”
  Tina Pizzitola, a member of the district’s para-educator intervention team, was named the 2018 Education Support Professional of the Year by the state’s top teacher’s union, the Illinois Education Association.
  “I was both shocked and humbled,” said Pizzitola who said she’s been with U-46 since 1998. “Shocked because there are over 30,000 ESPs statewide and over 1,300 in our district alone. Humbled because I know most work as hard if not harder than I do.”
  Randal Ellison, coordinator of discipline and education options, was named by the Illinois Coalition for Educating At-Risk Youth the Administrator of the Year.
  Ellison thanked the administrators who “supported me with all the crazy ideas that I come up with and help me progress and move forward” including Terri Lozier, assistant superintendent, and U-46 CEO Tony Sanders.
  “To me the greatest honor is to be recognized by your peers but also to be recognized by your teammates,” Ellison said.
  The district’s financial team was also recognized for receiving the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for its Fiscal Year 2017 budget by the Association of School Business Officials International and the Meritorious Budget Award for FY2018 Government Finance Officers Association.
  Jeff King, chief operating officer, and Dale Burnidge, financial operations director, thanked the board for the recognition and their team for their work, and King gave an added recognition to Burnidge.
  “If any of you know Dale, he’s one of the most humble people you can work with,” King said. “You ask him to do something, he doesn’t say much, he just gets it back to you about an hour later.”




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