Late last year, District 97 officials launched a new community outreach campaign called MyD97, which features a “Weekly Wrap-Up” newsletter, consistent updates on the district’s equity progress and a new “Making MyD7 Better Award,” a recognition the district gives out monthly to students, staff members, parents and community members “who are making their schools a better place for all,” according to a D97 statement. 

In December, the district gave out its first “Making MyD97 Better Award” to Charlie Kane, the interim building engineer at Lincoln Elementary.

“Charlie arrived at Lincoln at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year as crews were working to complete the school’s expansion project,” district officials explained in a statement announcing the award. “He played a vital role in preparing the building for the first day of school, and his dedication, hard work and positive attitude quickly earned him the respect of Lincoln’s students and staff.”

Joanne Lowry, an administrative assistant at Lincoln, said employees at the school nominated Kane for the award “because our school year would not run as smoothly without him. We were under construction up to the day of school. They brought Charlie to us in probably mid-August. He was positive, motivated, and helpful — anything we needed from him he was there for us.” 

The district gave out the second “Making MyD97 Better Award” to Ana Garcia-Doyle, a parent and founder of Beye Elementary’s Green Team, an organization run by volunteers. 

In a statement announcing her award, D97 officials said that under Garcia-Doyle’s leadership, “the Green Team has implemented a number of initiatives in an effort to create a “green culture” within the school,” such as securing a $20,000 grant to help fund “zero waste initiatives, including purchasing lunchroom dishwashers and new water fountains compatible with water bottle refilling capacity.”

The Green Team also helped Beye “divert 68 tons of solid waste from the landfill since 2008 through the school-wide recycling, composting and zero-waste programs,” and was instrumental in the school winning the Environmental Hero Award from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in 2011 and the Fitzsimmons Award for Excellence in Public Health from the Village of Oak Park in 2012. 

“When Ana started all of this she really was looking to make Beye School better, but over the years she has made the entire district better, because there are just so many things that started here at Beye that were great and they have [spread] throughout all the elementary and middle schools,” said Beye Principal Jonathan Ellwanger.

At the time of this article’s print deadline, the district was scheduled to announce the third “Making MyD97 Better Award” at a regular school board meeting on Tuesday. For more info on the award, visit: To nominate someone for the award, visit:


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