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The Mokena School District 159 Galaxy Award is a program to specially recognize the above and beyond accomplishments and/or contributions of Mokena School District 159 employees (including teachers, support staff, and administrators), students, parents, and community members. These awards are intended to celebrate truly exceptional accomplishments and/or contributions that were so impactful it changed the life of a student, colleague, family, or the community at large in a positive and deeply meaningful way. This District 159 program is a partnership with the Mokena Educational Foundation (MEF) and the Mokena Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

Mokena School District 159 would like to congratulate the five recipients of the 2021-22 Galaxy Award!

Martha Kadan - Mrs. Kadan is a Kindergarten Dual Language Teacher. The nominator had this to say about her:

Over the years, I have observed Mrs. Kadan interact with students and families in a loving manner. Not only does she service her students, she also instills confidence and security with the dual language parents and families… She has touched the lives of so many by inspiring a love of learning, and a love of language and culture.

Not a day goes by that she is not talked about in our home.  To be able to teach our young ones to read and write is wonderful , but to be able to do it in 2 Languages is amazing.  She is brightening our Children’s future.  It takes a special individual to take on the beginning of what these young minds will learn for a lifetime.  

Carrie Ballantine - Mrs. Ballantine is a Kindergarten Teacher. The nominator had this to say about her:

Mrs. Ballantine is an exceptional teacher. My daughter absolutely loves her. She always engages the kids and has interesting ways to teach. Fun songs to sing and great stories to tell the littles!  My daughter loves learning on the carpet! I even get called Mrs. Ballantine at home! Blakley has learned so much this year it’s crazy! Thank you so much for standing out as an exceptional teacher!

As parents, we cannot underestimate or completely understand what it has been like for all teachers and school staff to work through a pandemic. MES has certainly done their best to make us feel as comfortable as possible throughout this time period.

Jill Turner - Mrs. Turner is a bus driver for District 159. She is retiring this year after 20 years. Here is what the parent had to say:

When Mrs. Turner was off for a couple of weeks last year, we really felt her absence.  She is always nice to the kids and brings positive energy.  My youngest daughter tells me that Mrs. Turner makes sure they are always safe.  She has been like a family to us.  

Mrs. Turner helped us tremendously with our careers knowing that we don’t have to worry about the kids getting back and forth to school safely while we are at work.  When my youngest tripped at school, Mrs. Turner helped her with the scratch and she made sure to tell us what happened when she dropped her off. She always finds the time to keep us informed about what’s going on and just be there for us. We will miss Mrs. Turner next year!

Lin SIlvestri - Mrs. Silvestri is an Administrative Assistant at Mokena Elementary School. She is retiring after 25 years of service to the District. The nominator had this to say about her:

Lin is a strict manager of the school budget.  Her attention to detail is like no other.  She’s quick to help new office employees at MES and throughout the district.  Lin is a whiz at scheduling and arranging for substitutes.  These past two years have been the most challenging and Lin has gone above and beyond to ensure our school is covered.  Lin is able to anticipate what the school administration needs before they even realize they need it. This school and district are losing a tremendous resource with Lin’s retirement.  

Tim Holland - Mr. Holland is a Coach at Mokena Junior High School. The nominator had this to say about him:

Coach Holland is not a teacher.  Coach Holland doesn't even have a child in our school. This past year he not only led our 8th graders to a Conference Championship, he led them to a First Place Finish in the Conference Tournament, as well.  He gave kids an opportunity to learn and compete in a sport they can play in high school and encouraged others to try a sport they may otherwise never would try.  

Coach Holland is a very good coach, a great person, a pilot that volunteers his time to help kids he doesn't know.  Mokena is lucky to have someone like him that goes the extra mile to make a positive impact on young athletes.