Todd Cherney and Cheryl Lyons win the 2022 District 58 Distinguished Service Award

dsa 2022

Fifty-three District 58 staff members earn a nomination

The Education Foundation of Downers Grove District 58 is happy to announce that District Technology Technician Todd Cherney and Whittier Fifth Grade Teacher Cheryl Lyons received the 2022 Distinguished Service Award (DSA)! This award program annually invites community members to nominate District 58 employees who exceed expectations and serve as inspirations to their community. Two winners are chosen each year: one teacher and one non-teaching staff member. View the 2022 DSA photo gallery here. View the 2022 DSA nominee video here.

“Todd Cherney and Cheryl Lyons both embody District 58’s mission, and they are very deserving of this honor,” said Superintendent Dr. Kevin Russell. “On behalf of District 58, I am thrilled to celebrate Mr. Cherney and Mrs. Lyons as this year’s Distinguished Service Award recipients. Congratulations!” 

This year, 35 individuals and one group (53 staff members total) earned DSA nominations. An Education Foundation committee reviewed each nomination essay on an identity-blind basis to select the two winners.

“The Education Foundation is proud to support our incredible District 58 teachers and staff members through the Distinguished Service Award program,” said DSA Chair Mia Churma. “We already knew that District 58 has incredible staff, but after reading this year’s nomination essays, I am all the more amazed by the dedication and care that our staff exhibits, especially through the challenges of the past couple of years.”

Todd Cherney was nominated by his colleague, Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds Geoff Neustadt, who described how Mr. Cherney consistently goes above and beyond to ensure all students and staff have the technology equipment needed to be successful. He also highlighted Mr. Cherney’s extensive institutional knowledge, helpful demeanor, strong work ethic and high level of expertise, particularly during District 58’s recent central office moves.

“Todd sees when others are struggling and jumps in to assist, always with a smile and compassion,” Neustadt said. “Todd has a style that fits in perfectly with the family attitude of our District. Todd has made me a better person from countless situations working together for over 25 years.”

Mrs. Lyons received two nominations -- one from parents Megan Winthop and Christine Paulik, and one from parent Mindy Knox. Both nominations celebrated Mrs. Lyons’s positivity, respectful attitude and how she goes above and beyond to connect with students and parents, particularly throughout the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She personally recognizes each student and highlights their interests in ways that make them feel truly valued and heard,” said Ms. Winthrop and Ms. Paulik. “She voluntarily forms after-school clubs to bring kids together. Inventive games are created to engage/motivate students each day. A student recalls, “I'll never forget the week my teacher came by my house when I had to stay home so I could still do the Secret Santa.””

Congratulations, Mr. Cherney and Mrs. Lyons! In addition, District 58 congratulates the 53 staff members who earned 2022 DSA nominations:

2022 District 58 Distinguished Service Award Nominees

  • Kyle Anderson, El Sierra Night Custodian 
  • Ashley Andorf, Lester Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Meghan Beard, Lester Third Grade Teacher
  • Michael Bergmeier, Kingsley Custodian
  • Sabrina Breault, Pierce Downer First Grade Teacher
  • Maureen Bresnahan, El Sierra and Belle Aire Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Brad Burgess, Herrick Seventh Grade Science Teacher
  • Todd Cherney, District Service Center Technology Technician
  • Jennifer Conyac, Lester Fifth Grade Teacher
  • Shor Costello, Highland Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Amy Cunningham, Lester Kindergarten Teacher
  • Sarah David, El Sierra, Henry Puffer and Indian Trail Art Teacher
  • Tara Fulton, Belle Aire Third Grade Teacher
  • Henry Puffer Grove Children’s Preschool Team (Raffaella Bruno, Kendall Buege, Peggy Delaney, Susan Dillon, Tina Dobias, Betty Dylla, Julie O’Neill, Maria Haarth, Audrey Hattan, Nancy Hildreth, Melita Jenzake, Julia MacKerell, Kim McSherry, Maggie Michels, Hannah Mooneyham, Darcey Pellicano, Cheryl Prescott, Michelle Sosa, JoAnn Swanson)
  • Abbie Hildreth, Herrick Resource Teacher
  • Nancy Hildreth, Henry Puffer Grove Children’s Preschool Teacher
  • Cori Holtze, Highland Resource Teacher
  • Julie Iaquinto, El Sierra Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Michelle Junkas, El Sierra Secretary
  • Rachel Katoll, O’Neill BEST Teacher
  • Kristen Leonard, Lester Social Worker
  • Cindy López, El Sierra Dual Language First Grade Teacher
  • Mary Loversky, El Sierra and Indian Trail Library Teacher
  • Cheryl Lyons, Whittier Fifth Grade Teacher
  • Valerie McKinley, Indian Trail Grove Children’s Preschool RISE Teacher
  • Kristen Mitzel, O’Neill Math Teacher
  • Katelyn Morgan, O’Neill Resource Teacher
  • Nancy Mueller, El Sierra Instructional Assistant
  • Robyn Panico, O’Neill English-Language Arts Teacher
  • Mike Rose, Belle Aire Night Custodian
  • Debbie Scarlati, El Sierra Secretary
  • Colleen Sciacca, Lester Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Kali Sheldon, El Sierra, Hillcrest and Kingsley Music Teacher
  • Shirley Sheppard, El Sierra Nurse
  • Julie Spring, Fairmount, Hillcrest, Indian Trail and O’Neill Orchestra Teacher
  • Barb Svitak, Highland Instructional Assistant

Learn more about the Distinguished Service Award Program at