OG Best of the Nest Award Winners

Mrs. Brigitte McKown - Fall 2023

It is with great excitement that the administration recognize Mrs. Brigitte McKown as the Fall 2023 Best of the Nest recipient. Mrs. Almasi wrote, “I would like to nominate Brigitte McKown for the Best of the Nest. Mrs. McKown stepped into a new role this year, a move that may have been out of her comfort zone but well within her abilities as a professional and skilled educator. As she took on the role of RTI Coordinator, Brigitte left behind many years of kindergarten teaching and welcomed the new role in supporting all of our students, K-8, in need of additional support. This is a monumental task, and she has embraced the challenge beautifully! In addition to planning and delivering reading and math interventions to K-8 students, Mrs. McKown coordinates and administers benchmark testing for the entire school and delivers the data to help determine student needs. She heads the RTI Team, and coordinates team meetings to analyze the progress of tier 3 students and ensure we are doing absolutely everything we can to help our students succeed. She is just two months into this position and somehow has mastered all of these responsibilities without pause. I know that she has gone above and beyond to make these things happen the first time around as she learns and it has not gone unnoticed! In addition to her professional responsibilities, Brigitte is a mentor to so many on our staff. She is a supportive and genuinely caring individual who never fails to check in when she knows someone is struggling. She is a friend to all in the building, which makes her even more successful in her role as a building level coordinator. Mrs. McKown makes Oak Grove better and is so appreciated for all she does for our students, staff, and families. This makes her the best candidate for our Certified Staff Best of the Nest award! Thank you, Mrs. McKown!! Congratulations Mrs. McKown for being selected the Best of the Nest!

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Mrs. Lenora Bright - Spring 2023

It will be hard to imagine Oak Grove without this year's Spring 2023 Best of the Nest Award Winner, Lenora Bright. Mrs. Bright was nominated by the entire administrative team for her efforts in making Oak Grove the very best it can be. When a volunteer was needed to take the previous coordinator’s position, Lenora stepped in and tirelessly worked to not only continue the program but incorporate the junior high into our intervention system. She has communicated the needs of so many students over the years. She is detail oriented, organized, and she consistently exceeds expectations in her role and as an employee. Ask any staff member in the building about Lenora and they will tell you that she embodies quality in her work. In her final year, it is important for her to know how much we appreciate her efforts in making our students get back on track. Personally, I (Dr. Baele) love hearing her come into Mr. Bishop’s office announcing another goal achieved by a student she is helping. Student success is at the heart of what we do and Mrs. Bright does it well! We certainly will miss Lenora and believe that she is more than deserving of the title of “Best of the Nest”!

Mr. Troy Williamson

It is with great pleasure that the Board award the 2022-23 Support Staff Best of the Nest Award to Troy Williamson, day custodian at Oak Grove. He was nominated by the 4th grade teachers and Dr. Baele. Since taking on the daytime position, he has noticeably improved the cleanliness of the building and works hard at completing needed projects around Oak Grove School. Our 4th grade teachers said this about Troy, “He is always moving at full speed, is friendly and positive, and takes on more than his share of work. Our building has never been so clean. It is obvious that he takes great pride in his work, and we appreciate him so much.” I couldn’t agree more, what I (Dr. Baele) love most about Troy is that he is always coachable and open to a new way to get things done and for these reasons he is the 2022-2023 Best of the Nest recipient. From everyone at Oak Grove, we are proud of you Troy, and we want to congratulate you for being the Best of the Nest.

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Mrs. Jones - Oct 2022

Ms. Taylor Welsh - Fall 2022

This Fall, the Best of the Nest award goes to Ms. Taylor Welsh. Mrs. Almasi wrote, “I would like to nominate Taylor Welsh for the Best of the Nest Award. Taylor is participating in the language arts curriculum pilot, but her advocacy for quality instructional materials is not new. She is knowledgeable in the practice of teaching early reading skills and has spent a large amount of time during her years at Oak Grove researching and adjusting her practice to ensure her students become readers. She has provided thoughtful insight throughout the pilot process and though her own curriculum pilot has had challenges (the materials were delayed for two months) she was flexible, open-minded, and ultimately advocated for her students in moving to a different curriculum altogether. Once that decision was made, Taylor spent a great deal of time learning a new system and ensuring her students would be successful- even stepping out of her comfort zone to attend professional development at a different school. In addition to all of this, Taylor is a fantastic colleague. She has been a great collaborator and mentor to her new first grade teammate and to many others in the elementary hallway. She is a positive and approachable person to everyone in the building and all of these qualities make her the best candidate for the Best of the Nest Award! The administrative team agrees that we are fortunate to have Ms. Welsh at Oak Grove and she is fully deserving of this year's Best of the Nest award!

Congratulations Taylor for your outstanding efforts to make Oak Grove School the very best!

Mrs. Diane Padilla - Spring 2022

We are proud to announce the certified “Best of Nest” award to a staff member that has gone above and beyond in her professional practice.  Mrs. Almasi writes, “Mrs. Padilla is a bright light in the Oak Grove community. She genuinely cares for her students, consistently advocating for what is best for them in the classroom and in life. Students in Mrs. Padilla's class know that their individual needs are important and that she values the differences that make them unique. She is supportive of her colleagues, always willing to share and learn as part of a team.  Mrs. Padilla is always on board with new initiatives and looking to participate in making Oak Grove the best school it can be. She has participated as part of the SIP team in creating our School Improvement Plan and is participating in the math pilot this year. Di has committed a great amount of time to learning and mastering the new curriculum, even spending time over the summer attending professional development and studying the materials. We are fortunate to have Mrs. Padilla at Oak Grove and she is fully deserving of the Best of the Nest award!” The administration is proud to present the Spring 2022 Certified Staff “Best of the Nest” designation to Mrs. Di Padilla. The Board of Education congratulated Mrs. Padilla and thanked her for her service to the District!

Mrs. Diane Padilla - Spring 2022

Mrs. Amy Wisher - Spring 2022

Mrs. Amy Wisher - Spring 2022

It is a great honor to announce that the 2021-22 support staff “Best of the Nest” award goes to Mrs. Amy Wisher. Although there are numerous employees that are deserving of this award, Mrs. Wisher has demonstrated her continued “can do” attitude by taking on more responsibilities here at Oak Grove School. Mr. Bishop writes, “In every organization, there are people that you can rely on when needed, without fail. Mrs. Wisher is definitely one of those individuals. She has been a ray of light during some stormy times. Her willingness to obtain her substitute certification, take over coaching cheerleaders at the last minute, as well as never backing away from an assignment, always willing to help in any way, are the qualities that make her an outstanding recipient of this prestigious honor. Mrs. Wisher is truly the Best of the Nest.” The administration is proud to present the 2021-22 Support Staff “Best of the Nest” designation to Mrs. Amy Wisher.

Mrs. Monica Swanson - Fall 2021

We are proud to announce the certified “Best of Nest” award to a staff member that has gone above and beyond in her professional practice.  This Fall, the Best of the Nest award goes to Mrs. Monica Swanson.  Mrs. Almasi wrote, “Mrs. Swanson is a dedicated professional who is always looking for the best ways to serve her students. She is participating in the math pilot this year and has committed a great amount of time to learning and mastering the new curriculum, even spending time over the summer attending professional development and studying the materials. She always has a positive outlook and is committed to lifelong learning, trying new things and learning what her students need to be successful. As a staff member, Monica is a great colleague who interacts positively with everyone and is part of the solution when it comes to “bridging the hallways”. The administrative team agrees that we are fortunate to have Mrs. Swanson at Oak Grove and she is fully deserving of this year's Best of the Nest award! Congratulations Monica for your outstanding efforts to make Oak Grove School the very best!

Mrs. Monica Swanson - Fall 2021

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Mrs. Sherry Stobaugh - Spring 2021

Mrs. Sherry Stobaugh was announced as the 2020-21 Oak Grove support staff “Best of the Nest” award recipient. This is the inaugural award for the support staff. Since the implementation of the stay-at-home order in March of 2020, Mrs. Stobaugh has taken on the additional responsibilities of State reporting. From attendance, busing, assisting teachers with grades, and coordination of it all within the Student Information System (SIS), Sherry has been excellent. There is no job that Mrs. Stobaugh can’t handle, if she doesn’t know, she will find out. She is a great asset to Oak Grove and we are all thankful for her dedicated work as well as her caring heart! Dr. Baele informed the Board that the administration will select another “Best of the Nest” staff member in the Spring 2022 for the 2021-22 school year. The Board of Education congratulated Mrs. Stobaugh and thanked her for her service to the District!

Ms. Kelly Sams - Fall 2020

This Fall, the "Best of the Nest" award goes to Ms. Kelly Sams. Mrs. Almasi wrote, “Ms. Sams has been working really hard with remote learning, bending over backwards to make connections with students and offering her own time to make sure kids have the opportunity to learn. She connects with kids here in school, even those not in her homeroom, to make sure they keep up on their work and has provided accommodations to help kids who have struggled to stay organized with the format of virtual assignments. She attended professional development over the summer to prepare for remote learning, and has stepped out of her comfort zone in many ways to make sure kids are learning this year.” Congratulations Ms. Sams for your outstanding efforts to make Oak Grove School the very best!

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Mrs. Whitney Heflin - Spring 2020

It is a great honor to announce the Spring 2020 “Best of the Nest” award goes to Mrs. Whitney Heflin.  Mrs. Heflin worked to build an inclusive environment at Oak Grove during the 2019-20 school year as the Student Council sponsor.  She built ownership and responsibility for students at Oak Grove through student representation, including the incorporation of a student developed and managed coffee and drink cart.  The Student Council was also instrumental in raising $2,586 dollars for Easter Seals.  Additionally, Mrs. Heflin advocates for her students and tirelessly plans and implements lessons that seek to educate the whole child. Mrs. Heflin is pictured with Dr. Loren Baele, the award was announced at the October 28th, 2020 Board of Education meeting.  Congratulations Whitney!

Ms. Roxy Sego - Fall 2019

The administration is proud to announce the inaugural “Best of Nest” award to a staff member that has gone above and beyond in her professional practice.   It is a great honor to announce that the first ever “Best of the Nest” award goes to Ms. Roxy Sego.  This fall, Ms. Sego provided NWEA MAP training to her fellow teachers and continues to provide valuable support as we continue the assessment cycle. The initial results are encouraging, and we have more teachers looking at data than ever before. She has presented at the Peoria County Institute in September and the Raising Student Achievement conference in December, involving her fellow teachers and her class as part of her presentation on mystery hangouts.  It is an absolute joy to observe her in her classes. The administration is proud to present the Fall 2019 “Best of the Nest” designation to Ms. Roxy Sego. We wish her continued success throughout the rest of the year. Ms. Sego is pictured with Dr. Loren Baele, the award was announced at the January 22nd, 2020 Board of Education meeting.  Congrats Roxy!

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