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Viking Spotlight

227 N. Fourth Street
Geneva, IL 60134
Phone: 630-463-3000

Viking Spotlight

Michelle Vargas-Herbst

Viking Spotlight: Michelle Vargas-Herbst

As a seasoned educator and school psychologist at Geneva High School, Michelle Vargas-Herbst has dedicated more than 15 years to nurturing the minds and hearts of Geneva’s high school students. Her days are filled with evaluating the academic and emotional growth of students, facilitating group sessions, and providing one-on-one guidance. She collaborates closely with teachers, staff, and parents to ensure every student's case is managed with personalized care. 
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Susan Shrader

Viking Spotlight: Susan Shrader

At the heart of Geneva High School's vibrant educational community is Susan Shrader, the esteemed Dean of Students, whose passion for student success radiates throughout the halls. Since joining the GHS family in August 2007, Ms. Shrader has become a cornerstone of support and guidance, fostering an environment where students can thrive. In fact, Ms. Shrader’s hard work will be recognized this spring as she is a nominee for the Kane County Regional Office of Education’s Educator of the Year award in the category of School Administrator. 
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Eric Schulget

VIking Spotlight: Eric Schulget

At Geneva High School, Learning Behavior Specialist Eric Schulget brings learning to life for students. Since joining the Geneva 304 family in August 2022, Mr. Schulget has woven a rich tapestry of US history and government, pre-algebra, and algebra 1A, igniting young minds with the flames of knowledge and curiosity. The highlight of his role is the vibrant interaction with students—be it a casual chat in the bustling hallways, occasionally joining them in the cafeteria at lunch, or offering a listening ear and guidance through the labyrinth of academia and life's myriad challenges.
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Fourth Grade Teacher Brigid Buchman

Viking Spotlight: Brigid Buchman

When Brigid Buchman joined the Geneva School District in 2007, she brought more than just her degree in elementary education from Northern Illinois University. Her journey to teaching was a fascinating one—she had previously worked at the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and was a dedicated stay-at-home mom. But her true calling was always education, inspired by her parents who were both teachers.
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Tracey Pankow principals secretary

Viking Spotlight: Tracey Pankow

Tracey Pankow, the principal's secretary at Harrison Street School, plays an integral role in ensuring that day-to-day school operations run smoothly. From assisting Principal Hirsch with various tasks, to handling events and unexpected situations, Ms. Pankow's expertise is invaluable. She is always ready to lend a hand to students, parents, and staff alike, ensuring that the main office functions seamlessly.

“Every day is different. I never know what is going to happen which makes my job very exciting,” she said.
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Science teacher Emma Cole

Viking Spotlight: Emma Cole

Emma Cole, science teacher and activities director at Geneva High School, has been a guiding light for students since her arrival in August of 2006. With her vibrant personality, she has become a beloved figure within the school community. But what truly sets her apart is her unwavering passion for working with young minds. "They keep me young," she said. And indeed, it is her ability to connect with her students on a personal level that makes her teaching so impactful.
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Dominic Fallico

Viking Spotlight: Dominic Fallico

Dominic Fallico teaches Algebra 1 and 2 at Geneva High School; his first full-time teaching job after college. He started in August 2020, in the middle of remote learning during the COVID pandemic. Although it was a difficult way to begin his career, it gave him an appreciation for being in person with others.

“My favorite part of my job is getting to interact with students and have a positive impact on their experience with mathematics specifically,” he said. “Some students come to me with a negative disposition toward math already, so my goal is to have them become more comfortable with problem-solving and using logic so that they start to enjoy the learning process of math slightly more each day.”  
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Staff Spotlight, Jamie Dunlap

Viking Spotlight: Jamie Dunlap

Ms. Dunlap, business teacher at GHS has been involved with business throughout her career but didn’t start teaching until she was in her 40s. “I used to have a cake business and an Irish dance dressmaking business and although both were ultimately successful, I got very bored and it kind of took the fun out of what I love to do,” she said.
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Substitute teachers Sally and Mike Longo

Viking Spotlight: Sally and Mike Longo

School districts across the nation are struggling to recruit substitutes to help in classrooms when teachers need to be away from class. To help ease the shortage, the Illinois School Board of Education changed the requirements to make it much easier to obtain a Substitute Teacher’s license. In fact, to get a license, a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree in any subject is the only educational requirement – a teaching degree is not needed.

Geneva residents Mike and Sally Longo have subbed for the Geneva School District for many years. “Our three daughters went to school in the District, so we already felt a connection to the schools and staff,” said Mike Longo. “We wanted an opportunity that allowed us flexibility with our schedule and substitute teaching was a perfect fit.”
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Mr Graham helps a student in a bridge position on a colorful mat

Viking Spotlight: Mike Graham

Mike Graham’s physical education (PE) class at Williamsburg Elementary School is full of energy, games and music. He creatively incorporates activities into his class that get students moving and having fun for the two short periods each week that he sees each class. “I LOVE creating engaging lessons and seeing the joy that movement brings kids,” he said.  
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Stephanie Algrim and Gizzy the tortoise

Viking Spotlight: Stephanie Algrim

Sixth grade science teacher Stephanie Algrim has been teaching middle school science since 1994. She came to Geneva Middle School North (GMSN) in 2008. She took a short break from GMSN when she and her family moved to Seattle but came back to GMSN when they returned in 2020.

She is an animal lover who fosters dogs and cats from Anderson Animal Shelter with her family. Plus, her teaching “assistant” is a 30-year-old Bell's Hingeback tortoise named Gizzy, who lives in her classroom. Gizzy recently helped the class with gravity models to show the relationship between mass and gravitational force. She also helps with biosphere lessons (like food web, animal adaptations).
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Language arts teacher Laura Essex

Viking Spotlight: Laura Essex

Mrs. Essex is a language arts teacher at Geneva Middle School North. She joined the Geneva School District in August 2014, and she has taught 7th grade on the Blue Team ever since. “I love this age,” she said. “You can create a more relaxed environment and have fun with them.”
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Social Worker Dana MacDonald

Viking Spotlight: Dana MacDonald

Ms. MacDonald, School Social Worker at Geneva Middle School South has been a school social worker for 11 years. Ms. MacDonald attended Geneva Schools as a child from kindergarten through high school, so she was excited when she was hired at the district in August 2019.  
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Mrs. Orozco plays the violin

Viking Spotlight: Guadalupe Orozco

Mrs. Orozco is the Geneva School District’s new elementary orchestra teacher. She will be based at Harrison Street School and will serve all elementary schools. She is excited to meet her new students and share the world of playing string instruments. “I’m looking forward to having a wonderful year full of learning and growing,” she said.
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Mrs Jurkynas stands in the library

Viking Spotlight: Jen Jurkynas

Mrs. Jurkynas is excited about her new role at the Geneva School District as a learning behavior specialist. “I’m interested in creating a rapport with each student and their families,” she said. “Together, we can assist students as they achieve their goals. We’ll have an amazing 2022-2023 year!”
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Sergio Espana school psychologist

Staff Spotlight: Sergio Espana

Mr. Espana joins the Geneva School District this academic year as a school psychologist, serving the middle schools and high school. “What excites me most about being a school psychologist at Geneva CUSD 304 is becoming a part of a tight knit community that centers itself around a clear vision and goal of supporting the academic, behavioral, and emotional success of our students,” he said.
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Mr Mays sits on stairs

Viking Spotlight: Eric Mays

Mr. Mays brings 20 years of experience in the financial services industry to his work as a new business teacher at Geneva High School. “I am most excited about the opportunity to work with Geneva High School students and to help our future entrepreneurs, business-minded people, and future leaders,” he said.
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Bus driver Jeannie Bean smiles in the drivers seat

Viking Spotlight: Jeannie Bean

Early each morning long before the school day begins, Geneva School District Bus Driver Jeannie Bean, or Miss Jeannie as the students call her, thoroughly inspects her bus, as required by law. She emphasized the importance of safety for the transportation department. “Safety is number one,” she said. “We never get in a bus that’s not fit to be on the road.”

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Audrey Bridges smiles in front of the Coultrap Educational Service Center.

Viking Spotlight: Audrey Bridges

Audrey Bridges, Building Services Coordinator (BSC), is passionate about making sure that the students and teachers of the district have a clean, safe school environment for teaching and learning.

“Audrey has done excellent work in our district,” said (former) Geneva School District Superintendent Kent Mutchler. “She provides excellent leadership that we will miss. She puts students first in her work.”

In fact, she loves her job so much that her that even though she is retiring to Alabama next summer after more than 20 years in the district, she is considering finding a job at a school.
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