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END-OF-YEAR HONORS: District 2 celebrates the excellent work and career milestones of its teachers and staff

Photo Collage of Those Who Excel Winners and RetireesWith another successful school year nearly in the books, District 2 employees gathered May 22 at White Pines Golf Club to recognize colleagues who are retiring or celebrating milestone anniversaries with the District, teachers who recently earned tenure with the District, and staff who were honored with the District’s new “Those that Excel” Awards.

“Today is the day that we celebrate our amazing Bensenville School District 2 employees,” said Dr. Katie McCluskey, Superintendent of Schools, to the more than 140 teachers and staff members gathered for the celebration. “It’s not just a day for those that are winning awards, but for all of us in this room. This year did not come without its challenges, but every day, each of us rose to the occasion and worked hard on behalf of our students. I am proud of the collective work that we have accomplished this year, and I hope that you are, too. So before we get started on our recognition awards, I would like to give a round of applause to everyone in this room for all that you have accomplished, and for another great year of learning and growing together!” 


Recipients of the District’s new “Those that Excel” Awards were nominated for the honor by their colleagues for being outstanding ambassadors of District 2, and representing excellence within their schools and the District. They are …

  • ADMINISTRATOR: Christy Poli, BSD2 Pre-Kindergarten & Birth-to-3 Coordinator

  • TEACHER: Mercedes Childress, W.A. Johnson Special Education Teacher 

  • CERTIFIED STUDENT SUPPORT PERSONNEL: Maggie Hanley, W.A. Johnson Bilingual Social Worker

  • EDUCATIONAL SERVICE PERSONNEL: Lara Schwarz, BSD2 CARE Coordinator & Community Liaison

  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Claire Cooper, Transportation Director


The District celebrated the careers of three retiring employees. 

  • Mina Thielenhouse, W.A. Johnson Third-Grade Teacher, 33 years of service

  • Carol Lelito, Blackhawk Clerical Aide, 28 years of service

  • Nancy Donohue-Canfield, Blackhawk Bilingual English/Language Arts & Science Teacher, 9 years of service


Tenure is the highest honor the BSD2 Board can bestow upon a teacher. The District celebrated 17 teachers who earned this honor this year:

  • Blackhawk Middle School 

    • Melissa Glynn, Seventh-Grade Social Studies and Science Teacher

  • W.A. Johnson School

    • Nisma Castaneda Hernandez, Bilingual Third-Grade Teacher
    • Amanda Doyle, School Counselor
    • Carola Llanes, English as a Second Language Teacher
    • Sierra Moya, Bilingual Speech/Language Pathologist
    • Katie Perry, Gifted Education Teacher
    • Shelby Ross, Speech/Language Pathologist
    • Tara Schoepp, Fourth-Grade Teacher
    • Courtney Segretto, English as a Second Language Teacher
  • Tioga School

    • Tania Chlimon, Fifth-Grade Teacher
    • Alan DelRio, EL Specialist
    • Kayla Lincoln, English as a Second Language Teacher
    • Rameela Masghati, Third-Grade Teacher
    • Yesenia Nunez, Sheltered Fifth-Grade Teacher
    • Tiffany Riding, Teacher on Special Assignment
    • Abby Seaman, Fourth- and FIfth-Grade Music Teacher
    • Lisa Snyder, Gifted Education Teacher
    • Tereon Teague, Third-Grade Teacher


The following staff have reached milestone anniversaries during the 2023-2024 school year:

Educational Service Center

  • 50 Years of Service

    • Claire Cooper, Transportation Director

  • 30 Years of Service

    • Cindy Snyder, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent

  • 20 Years of Service

    • Andy Chiu, Data Analyst
    • Nelly Garcia, Payroll & Business Office Specialist
  • 10 Years of Service

    • Nguessan Kouame, Bus Driver

  • 5 Years of Service

    • James Croci, General Ledger Analyst

Blackhawk Middle School

  • 30 Years of Service

    • Helen Garcia, Principal’s Secretary

  • 25 Years of Service

    • Carol Lelito, Clerical Aide 

  • 20 Years of Service

    • Craig Baker, Sixth-Grade Math Teacher
    • Melissa Dresen, Seventh-Grade English/Language Arts Teacher
    • William Zeitler, Eighth-Grade Special Education Resource Teacher
  • 15 Years of Service

    • Kristin Doell, Seventh-Grade EL English/Language Arts Teacher
    • David Ellett, Physical Education Teacher
    • Adam Long, Sixth-Grade Science and Social Studies Teacher
  • 10 Years of Service

    • Joseph Hanley, Seventh-Grade Math Teacher
    • Elyssa Klein, EL Instructional Coach

  • 5 Years of Service

    • Megan Arado, Sixth-Grade EL English/Language Arts Teacher
    • Justin Chappell, Physical Education Teacher
    • Katherine Lange, Physical Education Teacher
    • Patricia Miranda, Language Assistant
    • Mary Novak, Bilingual Interventionist
    • Christina Olakowski, Counselor
    • Domenica Ottolino, Counselor
    • Monika Piekutowski, EL Math Teacher
    • Susan Ramel, Music Teacher
    • Renee Swidron, Eighth-Grade Math Teacher
    • Michael Verardi, Eighth-Grade English/Language Arts Teacher

Tioga School

  • 20 Years of Service

    • Fe DeGuia, Learning Center Aide
    • Soledad Sanchez, Bilingual Literacy Instructional Aide
    • Janice Wyka, Kindergarten Teacher
  • 15 Years of Service

    • Caitlin Laga, Fourth-Grade Teacher
    • Lauren Rieger, First-Grade Teacher
  • 10 Years of Service

    • Dianne Iwema, Kindergarten Teacher
    • Jeffrey Kersten, Principal
    • Jennifer McElligott, First-Grade Teacher
  • 5 years of Service

    • Diane Bendik, EL Specialist
    • Stephanie Fitch, Special Education Teacher
    • Barbara Jandura, Math Aide
    • Rachel Leedom, Second- Grade Teacher
    • Diana Luna, Bilingual/Sheltered Fourth-Grade Co-Teacher
    • Jayleen Mercado, Bilingual/Sheltered Fourth-Grade Co-Teacher
    • Tara Overfield, Special Education Aide
    • David Podrazik, School Psychologist
    • Brittany Reinhart, Special Education Resource Teacher
    • Janet Sears, Special Education Classroom Aide
    • Erika Vilchis, Infant/Toddler Specialist

W.A. Johnson School

  • 15 Years of Service

    • Brendan Breault, Physical Education Teacher
    • Amanda Hisaw, Third-Grade Teacher
    • Lisa Simoncelli, CARE Facilitator
  • 10 Years of Service

    • Mary Balducci, Special Education Resource Teacher
    • Sylvia Diaz, Special Education Aide
    • Caitlin Greco, Fifth-Grade Teacher
    • Brandy Schuttler, School Nurse
  • 5 Years of Service

    • Gloria Bek, Second-Grade Teacher
    • Carissa Cornier-Umana, Bilingual Special Education Resource Teacher
    • Sherin Daniel, Special Education Aide
    • Carol Fernandez, Bilingual Teacher on Special Assignment
    • Cristal Hernandez, Self-Contained Bilingual First-Grade Teacher
    • Yanet Hernandez, Special Education Aide
    • Alyssa Lee, Gifted Education Teacher
    • Skyelar O'Toole, Fifth-Grade Teacher
    • Katie Perry, Gift Education Teacher
    • Maria Christina Reyes, Office Manager
    • Faye Rivera, Third-Grade Teacher