Kohl Foundation names DDHS student, teacher excellence award winners

Alexandra Lewis

Alexandra Lewis

Elizabeth Lieske Evans

Elizabeth Lieske Evans

DELAVAN — Delavan-Darien High School Spanish language teacher Elizabeth Lieske Evans and DDHS senior Alexandra Lewis have received awards of excellence from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.

Lieske Evans was one of 100 Wisconsin teachers selected for a Kohl Fellowship Award. Lewis is one of 100 graduating Wisconsin high school seniors to receive a Kohl Excellence Scholarship. Both will receive a $1,000 award, and the school will also receive a $1,000 award.

“There are more than 400 school districts in the state of Wisconsin, and to have both a student and a teacher receive awards of excellence from the Herb Kohl Education Foundation speaks volumes about the success we continue to have in the Delavan-Darien School District,” DDHS Principal Mark Schmitt said. “Both Liz and Alex put forth tremendous effort inside of our Delavan-Darien classrooms and they are outstanding ambassadors of our schools. They are both truly deserving of these honors.”

“I am extremely proud of both for their accomplishments,” Superintendent Robert Crist said. “Both have demonstrated exemplary leadership in our schools and I’m happy to have them as a part of the Delavan-Darien School District.”

Excellence Scholarship recipients have demonstrated excellence in the academic arena and high motivation to achieve, have displayed a broad range of activity and leadership outside the academic setting, and have shown strong promise for succeeding in college and beyond.

Kohl Fellowship recipients are chosen for their superior ability to inspire a love of learning in their students, their ability to motivate others, and for their leadership and service within and outside the classroom.

Excellence Scholarship and Fellowship recipients are selected by a statewide committee composed of civic leaders, and representatives of education-related associations and the program’s co-sponsors: The Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools (WCRIS), and regional Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESA).

Lieske Evans has taught Spanish language in the Delavan-Darien School District since 1995. She graduated from DDHS in 1990 and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Spanish from St. Louis University (Madrid, Spain campus).

“My Spanish instruction started early under (the late) Nanette Nicolay at Phoenix Middle School and with Linda Eaton at DDHS,” Lieske Evans said. “Their instruction, coupled with my desire to study abroad, helped me to major in language study after graduating from DDHS. Today, I get the honor of sharing that love of language and culture with my students.”

Lieske Evans said she tries to have her students, no matter their ability level, use Spanish in the classroom as much as possible, often through conversation, games, online activities, music and more.

“I like to use a variety of active learning strategies to keep the kids engaged,” she said. “It makes teaching Spanish a lot of fun.”

“Having a diverse population in Delavan-Darien is also exciting because the students know they can use their language skills right away in our very own community.”

Lieske Evans — one of five Delavan-Darien teachers honored with a Kohl Foundation award — was asked to provide letters of recommendation from her colleagues to the selection committee.

“She believes, deep down to her core, that all of her students can be successful,” DDHS science teacher Kerry Butitta wrote of Lieske Evans in her letter. “She just knows they can do it, and she works tirelessly with them until they know it, too.”

Lewis — one of just seven DDHS students to earn the prestigious Kohl Excellence Scholarship — was supported by Principal Schmitt for the Kohl Excellence Scholarship.

“Alexandra’s service approach to life occurs within the context of being a very successful high school student,” Schmitt wrote in her nomination letter, which noted many of her acts of volunteerism as a student at DDHS. “Alexandra Lewis is a student of excellence and fully deserving of a Kohl Excellence Scholarship.”

Lewis ranks in the top 10 of her graduating class, is enrolled in six Advanced Placement courses, and has a cumulative grade point average of more than 4.27.

“I was very excited to learn about receiving this award,” Lewis said. “I feel it’s a great honor to be able to represent myself and my school district by accepting this award.”

Lewis credits her teachers — particularly Butitta, and physics Jerry Iserloth at DDHS, and her fifth grade teacher Steve Fouts at Turtle Creek Elementary — with inspiring her to pursue a career in science. After her June graduation, Lewis plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and pursue degrees in both psychology and occupational therapy.

“They have been inspirational me to kick it into gear and help me become who I am today,” she said.

Lewis is Student Council president and is a member of the National Honor Society and Varsity Club, which includes volunteering with the Delavan-Darien Athletics Booster Club’s activities. She also was a starter on the varsity girl’s basketball team and on the DDHS volleyball team.

Almost singlehandedly, Lewis organized a blood drive at the school in 2013. She has volunteered with the elderly within the community with Ridgestone Assisted Living Community events and with the Senior Olympics in Elkhorn. She participated in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s in September and helped raise nearly $600 for the cause.

On the sports front, varsity volleyball coach Jean Jacobs has indicated that she depends on Lewis to teach various fundamentals and skills drills to the upcoming generation of DDHS volleyball athletes.

Past DDHS Kohl Scholarship Recipients (students)

1993, Kristin Johnson

1994, Amy Zell

1995, Ryan Westergaard

1998, Lisa Guido

2006, Melissa Mansfield

2008, Emily Polster

2014, Alex Lewis

Past DDHS Kohl Fellowship Recipients (staff)

1991, Victoria Loudon, DDHS

1995, Steven Behar, DDHS

2003, Kristine Meyer, Phoenix Middle School

2007, Kathy Maher, Darien Elementary School

2014, Liz Lieske Evans, DDHS

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