Teachers and staff from the Chester Unit District 139 crowded into the annual End-of-the Year Breakfast this week, to honor the recipients of this year's Milestone Awards and three employees who are retiring.
The event began in the Chester Grade School cafeteria where CGS cooks prepared breakfast for all district employees. Then everyone moved to the CGS Gymnasium for the program.
Tuesday, May 21 was the last day of employment for Chester Grade School Principal Tim Lochhead; Joann Meyer, junior high science teacher; and Marla Rockwell, a grade school paraprofessional.
Rockwell, who worked at Chester Grade School for 12 years, was given a plaque by Superintendent Brian Pasero. She received another plaque from the Regional Office of Education which was presented by Chris Diddlebock, Assistant Regional Superintendent of Schools.
Meyer, meanwhile, taught science at CGS for 25 years and in total has been teaching for 31 years. Meyer elected not to receive plaques for her years of service; she did, however, accept a $30 donation to the Barb Brown Memorial Fund. Brown was Meyer's sister.
Lochhead also worked at Chester Grade School for 25 years. He initially was assistant principal under Principal Larry Young, and was elevated to principal when Young retired. Lochhead was a teacher for 12 years before he joined District 139, giving him 37 years total in the field of education.
Videos were shown that honored the careers of Rockwell and Lochhead, which were in turn emotional, funny and eye-opening.
For Meyer, her fellow junior high teachers and students created a video that was a comedic presentation, a light and fond perspective on her life and personality.
'I feel humbled'
Lochhead was raised in Chester where he spent many house pumping gas at the family business, Lochhead's Service Station. He graduated from Concordia College in River Forest with an education degree, and taught school at a Lutheran school in Bensenville for four years where he met his wife, Wendy, and they had their first child, Luke.
The family moved to Clawson, Michigan, near Detroit, where he taught at a Lutheran high school for eight years. and then became assistant principal. While there, Tim and Wendy had their second son, Zachary.
The Lochhead family came to Chester 25 years ago, and shortly after their move their third son, Jacob, was born.
An emotional Lochhead narrated a video which documented changes he led at CGS over the years. He stressed the improvements were a group effort, saying "We accomplished these things."
Some of the progress at CGS noted in the video were the improvement in ISAT scores from 53% of students meeting and exceeding to goals to the present-day 83%; improving the driveway/entrance to the school from Route 3 and making improvements and additions to the overall building; building a new, state-of-the-art gym (known by some as the "Timnasium"); developing the CGS Television Studio/TV Station Channel 10; being one of only 12 Beta Testing schools in the world for the Smart Table; winning the "Doing It Right" award from the St. Louis Cardinals; developing the Kids First program which helps supply much-needed supplies for needy kids; and having a state champion baseball team in 1996 and a state champion softball team in 2010.
"I feel humbled, honored, and blessed to have been able to serve in my hometown for the last 25 years," Lochhead said.
"I could not have had the longevity here without the most wonderful staff in the world or the 30-plus hugs I got from students every day. I will miss everyone and thank God for the blessing CGS has been to me and my family."
Pasero honored teachers and staff who have reached the longevity milestones of 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 25 years, 30 years and 35 years of service to the district.
• Five-year awards: Elizabeth Brown, Rebecca Clendenin, Viola Mennerich, and Kacey Search.
• Ten-year awards: Melissa Davitz, Stephanie Jany, David Kaiser, Jenny Krantz and Rachel Marshall.
• 20-year awards: Annette Draves, Jonnelle Evers, Jeannie Golding and Nicole Wingerter.
• 25-year awards: Donna Stueve, Jim Howie, Tim Lochhead, Joann Meyer, Shirley Stegmann and Joyce Wingerter.
• 30-year award: District office secretary Sheri Coughlin.
Following the presentation of awards and retiree recognitions the teachers and staff were released to attend CEA meetings and work the remainder of their final day of the 2018-2019 school year in their offices and classrooms.