INSPRA recognizes public education ambassadors during Virtual Distinguished Service Awards

Public education advocates from across the state were honored during a special video broadcast on Friday, May 21, 2021, as part of the Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association’s (INSPRA) annual Distinguished Service Awards.

The Distinguished Service Awards recognize individuals who make a difference in their school communities by promoting public education and enhancing its programs and services. Nominees are evaluated on their ability to support or improve understanding and communication in the school/district; foster cooperative partnerships between the school and community; and strengthen the overall support for education by stakeholders. 

Thirty-nine individuals and teams were recognized in the categories of Administrator, Board of Education Member, Community Member, Faculty/Certified Staff Member, Parent, Support Staff Member, and Team. School communicators from across the country judged the entries against a criteria of excellence, and only those receiving top scores received awards. Winning nominations either received an award of merit, or for those receiving the highest evaluations, an award of excellence. The list of award recipients is posted on the INSPRA website.

“Each year the Distinguished Service Awards honors those who are dedicated to conveying the value and importance of public education to the communities they serve,” said INSPRA President-Elect Alex Mayster, APR, and director of communications at Evergreen Park Elementary School District 124. “These individuals are ambassadors of their district and schools, and strive to celebrate and promote the accomplishments of their students and employees.”

The mission of INSPRA is to provide a source of connection, collaboration, and professional development for school communicators in order to strengthen support for Illinois public schools, which leads to greater student success. Workshops and programs take place throughout the year, providing opportunities for members to learn and grow in their craft. The Distinguished Service Awards luncheon is a highlight of the year and is attended by communications professionals, superintendents, board of education members and other school leaders.

Award Winners:


Dr. Margaret Clauson, Superintendent, Morton Grove School District 69
Dr. Ken Wallace, Superintendent, Maine Township H.S. District 207
Gina Steinbrecher, Coordinator Of Communication, West Chicago District 33
Jeff Howard, Principal, Lisle High School
Eileen Brett, Principal, Wilmot Elementary School (Deerfield 109) 

Sandi Correa, Director Of Information Services, Crystal Lake Elementary District 47
Dr. Scott Helton, Superintendent Of Schools, Dupage High School District 88
Dr. James M. Gay, Superintendent, High School District 230
Sharon Michalak, Principal, Lincoln-Way East Community High School
Tammy Prentiss, Superintendent, Hinsdale Township High School District 86
James Ongtengco, Superintendent, Fenton Community High School District 100
Patricia Dal Santo, Regional Superintendent, Kane County Regional Office Of Education
Marc Solodky, Coordinator Of Student And Family Services, Troy Community School District 30-C
Prentiss Lea, Superintendent, Community High School District 128
Dr. Jim Boswell, Director Of Technology, Bremen High School District 228


Pastor Josh Ebener, Submitted By West Chicago Elementary School District 33
Ben Desnoyers, Submitted By Bremen High School District 228

Dr. Jihad Shoshara, President Of Pediatric Health Associates, Submitted By West Chicago Elementary School District 33 


Juanita Gryfinski, Certified School Nurse, Community Unit School District 303
Marty Coyle, Industrial Technology Teacher, Bremen High School District 228 


Beth Fotos, Community High School District 99 

Cheryl Gleason, Schaumburg School District 54
Shawn Brugher, Bremen High School District 228


Jennifer Digioia, Administrative Assistant, Schaumburg School District 54 

Mary Thomas, Business Services Coordinator, Fenton Community High School District 100
Patricia Reyes, Administrative Assistant, River Trails School District 26
Officer Terrell Duffin, School Resource Officer, Bremen High School District 228



Beth Fotos And Maura Bates, Community High School District 99
District 54 Youth Activation Committee Members, Schaumburg School District 54
Amanda Chelepis, Sarah Bogard, Jessica Rucinski, Terrence Stephens, Bremen High School District 228 

Community Food Distribution Program, Dupage High School District 88
Bags Of Hope, Plainfield Community Consolidated District 202
Fenton Vaccination Team, Fenton Community High School District 100
Patricia Dal Santo, Deanna Oliver, Phil Morris, Katie Algrim, Cj Yoder, Eleanor Morris, And Angie Knorr, Kane County ROE
JTHS Problem Solving Circle Team, Joliet Township High School District 204 


Eric Moreno, Fenton Community High School District 100
Chloe Shapkauski, Bremen High School District 228 


Ryan Kuo, Deerfield Public Schools District 109 

Erica Loiacono, Director of Community Engagement & Communications, Community Unit School District 200