Peoria Public Schools Foundation | Peoria, Illinois

Foundation Heroes

We recognize that we can’t do this without people like YOU, so we’ve decided to celebrate those who have truly gone above to make Peoria Public Schools a better place.

Each month we find the newest HERO, and award their achievements. Check out the newest members here.

September, 2023

Carethia Hamner

School Crossing Guard

Ms. Hamner truly stands out in her vital role as a school crossing guard. Each day, rain or shine, she goes above and beyond to ensure our students arrive and leave school safely. Ms. Hamner's dedication and commitment to the safety of our children is truly appreciated. We extend our sincere gratitude to her and all of our incredible crossing guards who work diligently to keep our students safe on their journeys to and from school. Thank you so much for your work!

May, 2023

Rick Pantages

Master Gardener

Rick's expertise as a master gardener has been essential in supporting school gardens at multiple PPS schools. Rick is always willing to assist with garden clean-up tasks and enjoys teaching children in the classroom about planting seeds and fostering a hands-on connection to nature. In addition, he is devoting a significant amount of time to helping with the Charter Oak Community School Garden project.

April, 2023

Sharonda Buckner

School counselor at Glen Oak Community Learning Center

Dr. Buckner is a true Hero, always going above and beyond to support her students' academic and personal success. Over the past decade, Dr. Buckner has also been a key advisor and a huge support in the implementation of the Horizons Club program across the district, being a primary contact at many schools over the years. We are so grateful for all the advice and work she has done to make Horizons an impactful success.

March, 2023

Tagwana Webster

Climate Transformation Project Director for Peoria Public Schools

Tagwana is charged with the implementation and oversight of the hugely impactful Lights on Peoria grant program, and helps coordinate career development in the high schools. She has always been a champion of the PPS Foundation with both volunteer time and donated talents, being a guest on our Facebook Live Buzz Chats and providing supports for our career program growth. Thank you, Tagwana, for all your hard work! We appreciate you.

February, 2023

Holly Nelson

Teacher & Coach at Manual High School

Coach Nelson's unwavering commitment to her students is evident in everything she does, from her role as the Head Coach of the Girls Basketball team, to her support of dances and events. Her tireless efforts as an educator both in and outside of the classroom make her a shining example of excellence. Congratulations Coach Nelson, and thank you for your incredible impact on the students at Manual High School!

January, 2023

Kim Getz

Teacher at Manual High School

Kim is a teacher at Manual High School (and a 2022 PPS Foundation Classroom Grant recipient!). She considers her students family and works tirelessly to provide an exceptional educational experience for them. She bakes them homemade cinnamon rolls, makes sure each day starts with a hot breakfast and gives them Christmas gifts each year. Our HERO award was started in 2019 to recognize employees and community people who go above and beyond in working with our PPS students. Kim truly does this and it was such an honor to give her this award from the PPS Foundation. Congrats Kim!

Past Heroes

August 2022 - May 2023

May 2023 – Rick Pantages, Master Gardener

April 2023 – Sharonda Buckner, school counselor at Glen Oak Community Learning Center

March 2023 – Tagwana Webster, Climate Transformation Project Director for Peoria Public Schools

February 2023 – Holly Nelson, Teacher & Coach at Manual High School

January 2023 – Kim Getz, Teacher at Manual High School

November 2022 – Darlene Violet, Founding Member of Shared Blessings Peoria

October 2022 – Casey Ahmad, School Counselor at Sterling Middle School

September 2022 – Sarah Fletcher, Director of Grants & Community Initiatives, Community Foundation of Central Illinois

August 2022 – Shelly Craycraft, Richwoods High School Librarian & Roundtable Advisor

August 2021 - May 2022

May 2022 – Jessica Oberholtzer, family school liaison at Harold B. Dawson Jr. Middle School

April 2022 – everyone at the PPS Accountability & Research Department

March 2022 – Michelle Seipel, PPS Director of Technology

February 2022 – Michael Brix, construction instructor at Woodruff Career & Technical Center

January 2022 – Connie Graves, library manager at Von Steuben Middle School

December 2021 – Lyndsay Griepentrog, Starbucks District Manager Central Illinois North

November 2021 – Dave Meyer, PPS Director of Buildings & Grounds

October 2021 – Janet Ham, past president of Whittier Primary School PTO

September 2021 – Andrew Muir, CEO of Muir Omni Graphics

August 2021 – Matt Fogelmark, PPS Print Shop at Roy Ricketts Center

August 2020 - May 2021

May 2021 – Geri Hammer, PPS Director of Employee Services

April 2021 – Dr. Thom Simpson, retired PPS administrator

March 2021 – Shar’Ron Ford, front desk gatekeeper at Manual High School

February 2021 – Mike Illuzi, principal of Lincoln k-8 School

January 2021 – No Foundation Hero this month

December 2020 – Pam Wiley, food pantry director at the Wraparound Center

November 2020 – Dr. Susan Grzanich, PPS Innovations & Grants Officer and Director of Woodruff Career & Technical Center

October 2020 – Brittany Duffield, licensed realtor & property manager at Junction City

September 2020 – Stacy Hardin, owner of The Book Rack Used Books & Gifts

August 2020 – Alex O’Shaughnessy, Richwoods High School graduate

August 2019 - July 2020

July 2020 – Elise Scheil, Hy-Vee on Sheridan Store Director

June 2020 – Michael Murphy, PPS Board of Education member

May 2020 – No Foundation Hero this month

April 2020 – No Foundation Hero this month

March 2020 – Barbara Pierce, PPS Communications Specialist

February 2020 – Tracy Jones, PPS Executive Administrative Assistant

January 2020 – Jitske (Jetty) Miedema-Fox, Head of Culinary Program at Wooodruff Career & Technical Center

December 2019 – Alex Romero, PPS Administration Building Daytime Custodian

November 2019 – Naomi Armstrong – Administrative Assistant at Roy Rickets Center

October 2019 – Mary Newman-Evans, English teacher & CEAT (Community Engagement Action Team) Leader at Manual High School

September 2019 – Lillian Bishop, PPS Transportation Specialist

August 2019 – Stan Hangen, Family & Community Liasion at Manual High School