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Eight D65 Staff and Team Members Earn "Those Who Excel" Award from Illinois State Board of Education

Six teams and two individuals from District 65 were among the 490 Illinoisans who were recognized this year by the Illinois State Board of Education for their extraordinary contributions to education across the state.

The annual Those Who Excel & Teacher of the Year Awards celebrate classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, security guards, nutrition professionals, school nurses, librarians, school bus drivers, administrators, coaches, and volunteers who go above and beyond to make every student feel known and valued at school. These awardees have made lasting impacts on the students, families, and fellow educators in their school communities.

“Every day our staff goes the extra mile to support our students,” said District 65 Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton. “These eight teams and individuals are really models of excellence in D65, so for them to receive this recognition is just outstanding.”

A committee of administrators, teachers, educational service personnel, student support personnel, and past Illinois Teachers of the Year selected this year’s recipients, who will be celebrated at a banquet April 29. The District 65 recipients were honored at the beginning of the 7 p.m. March 27 Board of Education meeting at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center, 1500 McDaniel Ave., Evanston.

Awarded in the ‘Teacher’ Category:

Meritorious Service
Khloe Battle, Willard Elementary Teacher: nominated for creating a classroom culture of trust and being a leader in the district’s equity initiatives

Awarded in the ‘Educational Support Personnel’ category:

Special Recognition
Adeela Qureshi, School Board Secretary: nominated for streamlining Board meetings and managing increased FOIA requests

Awarded in the ‘Team’ Category:

Award of Excellence
CREATE 65 and PREP 65 team: nominated for recruiting, hiring, and retaining racially representative teachers and administrators who have an equity mindset through residency program

Finance Team: nominated for its relentless pursuit of a lease certificate process that would fund the new school being built in Evanston’s Fifth Ward

Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center: nominated for implementation of new strategic plan, which has improved the center’s culture, curriculum, ability to meet social-emotional needs, kindergarten readiness scores, and more

Meritorious Service
District 65 Drama Department: nominated for 99 years of collaboration between team members, specifically creating curriculum grounded in Creative Drama approach. District 65 is home to the longest standing drama program in a diverse public school district serving K-8 students.

Student Assignment Planning Team: nominated for extensive, actionable, collaborative work on District 65’s school boundary changes and the creation of a Fifth Ward school

Special Recognition
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging (DEIB) Team: nominated for creating programs that recruit and retain educators of color and keeping staff informed and trained in equity and inclusion best practices