PPS Foundation Heroes and Sheroes

The PPS Foundation recognizes that we have so many AMAZING people who are involved in our Peoria Public Schools community.  Check out the list below for those who have been awarded the PPS Foundation HERO or SHERO of the month.  These individuals have gone above and beyond to improve and strengthen Peoria Public Schools, and we are truly grateful for their time and talents.


March 2023: Tagwana Webster, Climate Transformation Project Director for Peoria Public Schools

Tagwana is charged with the implementation and oversight of the hugely impactful Lights on Peoria grant program, and helps coordinate career development in the high schools. She has always been a champion of the PPS Foundation with both volunteer time and donated talents, being a guest on our Facebook Live Buzz Chats and providing supports for our career program growth. Thank you, Tagwana, for all your hard work! We appreciate you.

February 2023: Holly Nelson, Teacher & Coach at Manual High School

Coach Nelson's unwavering commitment to her students is evident in everything she does, from her role as the Head Coach of the Girls Basketball team, to her support of dances and events. Her tireless efforts as an educator both in and outside of the classroom make her a shining example of excellence. Congratulations Coach Nelson, and thank you for your incredible impact on the students at Manual High School!

January 2023: Kim Getz, Teacher at Manual High School

Kim is a teacher at Manual High School (and a 2022 PPS Foundation Classroom Grant recipient!). She considers her students family and works tirelessly to provide an exceptional educational experience for them. She bakes them homemade cinnamon rolls, makes sure each day starts with a hot breakfast and gives them Christmas gifts each year.

Our HERO award was started in 2019 to recognize employees and community people who go above and beyond in working with our PPS students. Kim truly does this and it was such an honor to give her this award from the PPS Foundation. Congrats Kim!

November 2022: Darlene Violet, Founding Member of Shared Blessings Peoria

Darlene began getting involved with the PPS Foundation a few years ago and quickly became one of our most engaged supporters. She is passionate about children and education. She has also served on our 365 Breakfast Committee plus attends and supports our events and fundraising needs. We love working with Darlene and appreciate immensely all she does for us. Congrats and thank you so much, Darlene!

Darlene Violet with her son Matt

October 2022: Casey Ahmad, School Counselor at Sterling Middle School

Casey has been one of the strongest school advocates for her students and is always looking for resources and ways to support them. These students may need supplemental food, clothing, transportation, or school supplies, and Casey does a fantastic job by going above and beyond to make sure they get what they need to help them. She is a true hero with a big heart. Congrats and thank you for all you do, Casey!

September 2022: Sarah Fletcher, Director of Grants and Community Initiatives, Community Foundation of Central Illinois

Sarah works closely with the PPS Foundation by helping with our many funds that are held at CFCI. She is the consummate professional and a joy to work with. We love that Sarah attends and supports so many of our events in addition to the many other wonderful organizations in the community that she is involved with. She serves as a role model to many women in our community. We love working with her and appreciate all she does for the PPS Foundation. She is a true hero with a big heart. Congrats and thank you for all you do, Sarah!

August 2022: Shelly Craycraft, Richwoods High School librarian and Roundtable advisor

Shelley's work with the students of Richwoods makes a huge difference! As the leader of the Roundtable, a donation-based emergency needs items organization at the school, Shelley leads a team of Richwood student and staff volunteers to keep essential items available for any Richwoods student in need. From food to personal items and supplies, the Roundtable is always at the ready to make a difference when needed. We are so thankful for the work Shelley and her Roundtable Knights provide to the school. They are all true heroes!


Past Recipients of our HERO/SHERO Award:

August 2021: Matt Fogelmark, PPS Print Shop

September 2021: Andrew Muir, former PPS Foundation Board Member and Peoria Public Schools Alum

October 2021: Janet Ham, Community Volunteer and PPS Parent

November 2021: Dave Meyers, PPS Director of Buildings and Grounds

December 2021: Lyndsay Griepentrog, Starbucks Coffee District Manager - Central Illinois North

January 2022: Connie Graves, Von Steuben Middle School

February 2022: Michael Brix, Instructor of Work-Based Learning at Woodruff Career & Technical Center

March 2022: Michelle Seipel, PPS Director of Technology

April 2022: Shannon Marlin and the PPS Research Team

May 2022: Jessica Oberholzer, Family School Liaison at Calvin Coolidge Middle School

June 2022: No one in particular this month - Shout out to all the wonderful people in our community!

July 2022: No one in particular this month - You are all awesome!

August 2020: Alex O'Shaughnessy, PPS Graduate and Foundation Volunteer

September 2020: Stacy Hardin, Owner of Book Rack Used Books & Gifts

October 2020: Brittany Duffield, Junction City Property Manager and Realtor

November 2020: Dr. Susan Grzanich, Innovation and Grants Officer and Director, Woodruff Career and Technical Center

December 2020: Pam Wiley, Director of the Food Pantry at the PPS Wraparound Center

January 2021: No one in particular this month.  We have an amazing community of volunteers and supporters!

February 2021: Mike Illuzzi, Mentor, Volunteer and Retired PPS Principal

March 2021: Shar'Ron Ford, Front Desk Gatekeeper at Manual High School

April 2021: Dr. Thom Simpson, retired PPS Administrator

May 2021: Geri Hammer, Director of Employee Services at Peoria Public Schools

June 2021: No one in particular this month.  We love all of our PPS volunteers and supporters!

July 2021: No one in particular this month.  Our community is full of volunteers that care!

August 2019: Stan Hangen, Family and Community Liaison at Manual High School

September 2019: Lillian Bishop, Peoria Public Schools Transportation Department

October 2019: Mary Newman-Evans, English teacher at Manual Academy

November 2019: Naomi Armstrong, PPS Administrative Assistant at the Roy Ricketts Center

December 2019: Alex Romero, PPS Administrative Building's Daytime Custodian

January 2020: Jitske (Jetty) Miedema-Fox, Culinary Program at Woodruff Career & Technical Center

February 2020: Tracey Jones, PPS Executive Administrative Assistant

March 2020: Barbara Pierce, PPS Communications Specialist

April 2020: No one in particular this month - a heartfelt thank you to all our supporters & volunteers!

May 2020: No one in particular this month - our community of volunteers & supporters are the best!

June 2020: Michael Murphy, PPS Community Volunteer

July 2020: Elise Sheil, Manager of Hy-Vee in Sheridan Village