Foundation Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

The Network for Educational Excellence in Wheaton-Warrenville District 200, now known as the Student Excellence Foundation, was established in 1992 to enhance, support and promote the educational programs and activities of the students served by District 200.

During its first year, the Foundation received 38 grant proposals from teachers and was able to award five. Most of these grants provided students with access to computer programs and set the course for the Foundation’s goal of integrating ever-chancing technology into the classroom (see photo of a computer lab from 1992). Today, the technology is portable and much more intuitive to use. Students are even using robotic devices to solve problems.

As the Foundation looks forward to the next 25 years, it will continue to evolve to partner with District 200 to meet new challenges. “We must keep apprised of changes that will impact future generations of children. We know that 65% of today’s grade schoolers will hold jobs that don’t currently exist and that these students will use technologies that haven't been invented yet,” says Andy Johnson, the president of the Student Excellence Foundation board

Founding Member Spotlight
Jim Vroman,
President of the District 200 Board of Education
Founding member NEW 200 Foundation

The Impact of Educators
Over my formative school years, I had a number of great teachers: Mr. Tresniak, who actually made learning algebra fun; Mr. Schupmann, who emphasized the importance of being knowledgeable about current events; and Mrs. Goldenphennig, who insisted that when you read aloud, you speak with confidence, use correct pronunciation, and pause when you encounter punctuation “stop signs.”

My most influential educator was Miss Swanson, my 8th grade social studies teacher. We all were really bummed that, just weeks before graduating from junior high school, she gave us a homework project. She asked us to identify an adult working in an occupation that appealed to us, arrange a meeting with that adult, and actually interview that person about his or her job.

As a typical 8th grader, I had no clue about careers or jobs. Fortunately, I had just watched the movie Inherit the Wind, and I was so impressed by Spencer Tracy’s portrait of Clarence Darrow, that I decided to interview a lawyer. With some help from neighbors, I met with Mr. Alan Hultman in his office on a Saturday morning. He was so patient and accommodating and provided me with some insight on what a lawyer did and how you became one.

When I left his office, I knew the career I wanted to pursue: I would become a lawyer! Neither my mother or father had gone to school beyond the 9th grade, but they were very supportive. Fifteen years later, I graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law. My 33-year law career started because of one teacher who made a difference.

All four of my children attended District 200 schools and received a wonderful education in our schools. My wife Susan and I are pleased with the education they received from those who taught, coached, and counseled them.

I am proud to have been part of the team that created the NEW 200 Foundation in 1992. As parents, we believed that we needed to support our educators as they worked to prepare our children for the future. We understood that our teachers needed professional development opportunities, appropriate and current teaching tools, and active community support. As a result, the NEW 200 Foundation was committed to raising funds to meet these goals and supporting the great work our educators did on behalf our children.

The Student Excellence Foundation is not only carrying on the original mission of the NEW 200 Foundation, but it has taken that mission to a whole new level with the addition of the STEM Expo and recognition celebrations for our outstanding educators.

The support, resources and encouragement the Foundation provides our District 200 educators is so vital in light of all the challenges that now confront public education.

I give my heartfelt thanks to the Student Excellence Foundation for all it does for District 200.

Founding Member Spotlight
Bruno W. Tabis, Jr.
Haskin, Corrigan, Tabis & Parravano P.C.
Founding board member NEW 200 Foundation

One of the requirements in putting together a non-profit organization is to ensure that it has a template for how it is run and organized. Twenty-five years ago, attorney and partner at the Wheaton law firm of Haskin, Corrigan, Tabis & Parravani, Bruno Tabis donated his time and expertise to prepare the bylaws and organizational structure of the NEW 200 Foundation.

“We wanted to set up an organization to raise funds for school programs in addition and supplemental to what the District could provide. Recognizing that there were already other organizations providing support for athletics or, like the PTA, broad-based support, we wanted to focus strictly on academics, District-wide. The vehicle we chose was providing grant or seed money for promising programs which an individual teacher would develop for his or her own classroom, in anticipation that successful programs could be adopted and implemented across the District,” says Bruno.

While budgetary constraints at the federal and state-level are challenges facing District 200 today, Bruno says that “unfortunately, for all school districts, there are always more expenses than money. That was true when we set up the Foundation. With state funding cut-backs, that is even more true today, and the Foundation can play a bigger role.”

Bruno’s daughter Elizabeth attended District 200 schools and graduated from Wheaton North. His wife, Stacie Pierce, currently is a an English teacher at Wheaton Warrenville South High School.

As someone who volunteered his time in 1992 to provide extra education programs for District 200, Bruno says that he is, “very happy and encouraged to see the leadership provided by Pamela Paulsen and now Andy Johnson with the Foundation Board and Advisors.”

Preserving the Legacy of the Student Excellence Foundation
Barbara Intihar,
Member of the District 200 Board of Education and Education Liaison for the Student Excellence Foundation

Planned giving offers donors an opportunity to help preserve the legacy of the organizations which they support. As a member of the board of education since 2001, Barbara Intihar obviously values education.

Barbara and her husband recently decided to make a charitable bequest to the Student Excellence Foundation. “Ken and I believe that we should give back to the community through volunteering and financial support. Serving for 16 years on the District 200 Board of Education is one of the many ways I give back by donating my time. Including the Foundation in our estate planning bridges the service with the financial support,” says Barbara.

A native of Chicago, Barbara attended parochial schools and says that her dedicated elementary school teachers were nuns “who were constantly focused on preparing their students to use their God-given talents to the best of their ability.” She says that the most evident difference between her education the 1950s and 1960s and today’s classrooms is the transition from pencils and paper to digital devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Through her work as an education liaison with the Student Excellence Foundation, Barbara says that she’s been impressed with all of the tools and resources that teachers have requested through the grant process and has seen how teachers “encourage student creativity, collaboration, and communication. With technology changing so rapidly, teachers will - and should - ask for newer, better tools to help students prepare for careers that we don’t even know about today.”

She believes that keeping up with the technology in the overall learning environment - furniture, tools, techniques - will be a challenge of the future. “I would love it if we could fund an instructional coach at each of our schools whose job would be to keep up with innovations in instructional technology and serve as a trainer and resource to the rest of the staff.”

Please consider joining Barb and her husband in remembering the Student Excellence Foundation in your will or living trust and continue the legacy that will enhance education for future generations of District 200 students.