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Neighbors of DuPage

Great starts in Darien School District 61

May 28, 2015 08:59AM ● By Katelyn Nelson

The Darien District 61 Educational Foundation is proud to announce the second recipient of its “Great Starts in District 61” recognition award, Mr. Jose Moreno. “It’s an honor to celebrate former students like Moreno who are following interests they discovered while here in District 61,” says Foundation Chair Barbara Finnegan. “It’s exciting to follow up with them after they’ve left the district and see the exciting paths they’ve taken in their lives.” Moreno credits the projects he did in his Discovery enrichment class with encouraging him to pursue engineering in college.

Visitors to the Foundation’s website can view two videos recorded by Moreno. In both, he addresses the students of District 61, sharing his personal message to them—one in English and one in Spanish. Both videos, along with personal photos and a “Conversation with Jose” can be found at

Now 19, Moreno attended kindergarten at Fairview Elementary School. He spent his entire K–8 career in District 61 schools, graduating from eighth grade at Eisenhower Junior High. Moreno is currently studying electrical engineering and pursuing a double minor in entrepreneurship and computer science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. Moreno was able to enter college as a second-semester sophomore and credits this achievement in part to the education he received in District 61 that allowed him to take two years’ worth of advanced-placement courses in high school.

Moreno fondly recounts memories of his time in District 61. In “A Conversation with Jose Moreno” posted on the Foundation’s website, he recounts memorable moments highlighting special teachers along the way. He recalls learning group dynamics while building a house made of newspaper in his Discovery enrichment class. Moreno says he uses the lessons learned during this project in his team-centered engineering projects at college today.

In his video message to current students he says, “You’re so blessed at District 61 to have such great teachers who fully support you and are actually concerned with getting you ahead as a student and as a person.” Moreno perfectly captures the goal of a District 61 education when he states, “A school is a place that fosters the development of a student in terms of their role in a community, not just the scores they receive on exams.” He stresses the importance of being unique and being confident in that uniqueness. He counsels grabbing opportunity whenever it presents itself.

In a second video message delivered in Spanish and directed to bicultural Spanish-speaking students, Moreno discusses how being from another culture and speaking a second language is a big positive. He is the son of immigrant parents from Mexico. He was born in Mexico City and received American citizenship when he was a fifth-grader at Mark DeLay. He encourages bicultural students to keep their ability to speak a second language strong by practicing at home with their parents and family.

After college, Moreno wants to work in the aerospace industry because he believes “humanity is on the verge of entering a new space age” and he wants to be a part of that excitement. He has his sights set on eventually establishing his own company after gaining experience in the corporate environment.

When he’s not studying, Jose enjoys playing soccer at the gym and plays in a band he formed with other students who hail from all parts of the world: a drummer from England, a guitar player from Brazil and a singer from Russia. The band is called Tower Six (

The Darien District 61 Educational Foundation is honored to recognize Jose Moreno as the 2015 Great Starts in District 61 honoree and the exciting path he’s taken since moving on from District 61 schools. We look forward to watching him grow in pursuit of his goals.

Mare Chiaro is a member of the Darien District 61 Educational Foundation board of directors.

Darien teachers retire

Congratulations to the following teachers who will be retiring from District #61 at the end of the school year.

Donna Adams, a graduate of Western Illinois University, began working in District #61 in 1996 as a teacher’s aide for ESL, Kindergarten, and Special Education. She returned to District #61 as a third grade classroom teacher in 2001. She has taught both second and third grade students during her time in the district. She also served as a representative on the District Math Committee.

Mary Govertsen, a graduate of Michigan State and National-Louis Universities, began her career in District #61 in 2000. She has been an intermediate resource teacher at Lace School. During her career with working with special needs students, Mrs. Govertesen also coordinated the Building Safety Patrol. In this role her positive impact was felt throughout the building.

Mary Swenson, a graduate of Miami University and the University of Illinois began working in District #61 in 1983. She spent the next 32 years as the Social Worker at Mark DeLay School. She is also known as the coordinator of the District LifetoucherProgram which connects seniors with students needing extra academic assistance.

Thank you on behalf of all the students who have been impacted by your involvement in District #61. We wish them all success as they begin a new chapter of their lives.

Reminder: District #61 Computer Lab is open to the public

District #61 has opened their computer labs to the community for computer use in the evenings from 6–8pm at the following locations:

Tuesdays:       Eisenhower Jr. High
 (Enter through front door)

Wednesdays: Lace
 (Enter through front door)

Thursdays:     DeLay
 (Enter at the Gym Doors—
 north parking lot)

What can you do?

• Access your email

•  Use the internet

• Read books online with your child (

• Use our reading curriculum site

• Find resources to help your child learn

• Visit your child’s classroom website

• Research for school projects

• Utilize the student websites

• Check out what’s going on in Darien District #61 (

• Find ways to get involved in your community

Who can come?

Adults who want to have computer and Internet access can attend at any of the district schools.

School aged children are welcome to come and use the computers with an adult.