Dear PTAs of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65:

The Phyllis Ganser Outstanding PTA Volunteer of the Year Award was created by the PTA Council to honor Phyllis Ganser, who passed away in 2000 following a two-year battle with breast cancer.

The intent was to present the award annually to commemorate Phyllis as a dedicated volunteer, her promotion of the welfare of all the district’s children, and her commitment to the goals of the PTA. Phyllis was the first recipient.

Among the many changes that the COVID-19 pandemic wrought, the committee decided not to present an award in 2020. In the past, the award has been presented to one or two individual volunteers who are nominated by a fellow parent or faculty member.

With another school year so dramatically affected by the pandemic, but wanting to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of District 65 parents, one of the committee members proposed a wonderful and heartfelt way to acknowledge those efforts of so many.

On behalf of the Phyllis Ganser committee we would like to recognize you all for your strength and resiliency as you navigated this uncharted year in all of PTA history.

Here are just a few of the many things you accomplished this year (and this isn’t even everything).

  • You converted after-school enrichment to online programming and continued the course to make after-school enrichment more equitable for all students in District 65.
  • You supported and contributed to Evanston families in need when the pandemic was at its most damaging.
  • You voted to support and join PEP/One Fund so that fundraising revenue could be distributed across all schools to create a more equitable PTA system within our community.
  • Many of you spent countless hours on the PEP committee making sure this could happen.
  • You worked tirelessly to transform in-person community/connection events into a virtual platform.
  • You organized virtual game nights, supply drop-offs, signs to celebrate our graduates, virtual variety/talent shows, virtual science fairs/fun, Magical Mondays, lunch bunches, and March Madness.
  • You re-envisioned what connecting with families needs to look like in a pandemic.
  • You did fundraising that consisted of online book fairs, direct drives, food trucks, cookbooks, a native plant sale, read-athons, and spiritwear to name a few.
  • You supported one another through restaurant nights.
  • Throughout the year you held community conversations about race and racial affinity spaces.
  • You worked to envision, plan, and create Parent Cafés for racial justice and equity.
  • You offered Black Excellence Week, the MLK Dream Drive, and MLK recognition throughout the month of February.
  • You showed enormous strength and, above all, you supported one another and our community.

Thank you for everything you did this year for ALL D65 students!

Margaret MacKay on behalf of the Phyllis Ganser Committee:

Sue Levinson, Miriam Barnett, Corky Siegfriedt, Lohra Vogel, Jodie Ford, Katie Hart, Deborah Wood, and Donnalee Floeter