Clarinda Harbison
Clarinda Harbison

Submitted by ETHS

Each year, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) honors exemplary teachers, administrators, student support personnel, educational service personnel, community volunteers, board members, and teams from school districts across the state. Four staff members, one team, and a member from the Evanston Township High School community received recognition from the ISBE’s “Those Who Excel” recognition program for 2019-20.

ETHS teacher Ellen Fierer received an Award of Recognition from the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2019 "Those Who Excel" program. 

Ellen Fierer, a teacher of biology, advanced placement environmental science, and urban agriculture, received an Award of Recognition in the Classroom Teacher category. Since joining the ETHS Science Department in 2008, Fierer has met every challenge with great success. In addition to leading the department’s redesign of its freshman biology curriculum in 2010, she also designed and executed the first-ever Urban Agriculture class at ETHS which utilizes the onsite gardens and greenhouse as learning spaces.  

Ms.Fierer’s passion for teaching is supported by her ability to help students understand the relevance science has in their everyday lives. Some would say her authentic way of teaching and love of the subject is contagious. A former student stated, “...Ms. Ellen Fierer was more than my AP Environmental Science teacher: She is an educator and scientist that has inspired me to dedicate my life to the outdoors, and maybe someday become an educator and scientist as well.” 

In addition to her work inside the classroom,Ms. Fierer serves as the head coach for the Science Olympiad and manages the ETHS Nature Center and the Renewable Energy and Environmental Lab. 

ETHS Director of Activities and the Student Success Center Nichole Boyd received an Award of Merit from the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2019 "Those Who Excel" program. 

Nichole Boyd received an Award of Merit in the School Administrator category. The ETHS alumna returned to the high school as the Transitional Learning Center teacher in 2010, but her passion for the Wildkit community led her to become the Director of Activities and the Student Success Center in 2014. 

Over the past four years, Ms Boyd’s collaborative leadership style has resulted in an increase in student clubs and activities by 13 percent; partnerships with community organizations including the Woman’s Club of Evanston and the Mayor’s Student Advisory Council; and more creative student events and dances (i.e. spirit weeks, homecoming, prom, etc.). 

Her commitment to building a sense of belonging for ETHS students also extends to staff. Ms. Boyd serves on planning committees for Staff Institute Days, Staff Appreciation Week, among others.  

Ms.Stephney Brown received an Award of Recognition in the Community Volunteer category from the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2019 "Those Who Excel" program. (Photo provided by Althea Brown.)  

Stephney Brown, former ETHS parent and community leader, received an Award of Recognition from ETHS in the Community Volunteer category. After immigrating to Evanston from Jamaica, Brown quickly became known for bringing a unique spirit to many ETHS athletic events. 

Being a parent, aunt, and grandparent to over 50 children who have attended Evanston schools,  Ms.Brown is said to be the backbone of the cheering section with her sister, Ms.Hilmer Johnson. Recently, they traveled downstate to cheer on the ETHS Boys Basketball team as they played in the 2019 IHSA Boys Basketball State Championships.

“She has put the ‘fan’ in ‘fantastic’ supporter of ETHS athletic events,” said Dean of Students Cynthia Bumbry. 

Ms.Hilmer Johnson (Photo provided by Althea Brown) 

Brown and Johnson’s commitment to supporting ETHS students has left a lasting impact on the entire Evanston community. While the Illinois State Board of Education officially recognizes one volunteer from the district, they were both honored by ETHS this fall. 

ETHS Social Worker Peter Butler received an Award of Recognition from the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2019 "Those Who Excel" program. 

In the Student Support Personnel category, Peter Butler received an Award of Recognition. Mr. Butler joined the ETHS community four years ago with a strong commitment to social work. “Peter Butler loves our kids," stated a former parent who credited him with their student's ability to successfully navigate high school. "He excels because of this love, and he does not get paid to do that. Love is his secret weapon.” 

Mr. Butler’s dedication to the wellbeing of every student drives his collaborative nature with colleagues across departments to enhance student outcomes and his work on committees aimed to advocate for ETHS families.  

ETHS Athletics Operations Coordinator Clarinda Harbison received an Award of Recognition from the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2019 "Those Who Excel" program. 

Clarinda Harbison received an Award of Recognition in the Educational Support Personnel (Unlicensed) category for her tremendous contributions to the ETHS Athletic Department over the past seven years. Known for her organizational skills and collaborative nature, Ms Harbison was able to transform the way the Athletic Department conducted business by transitioning their accounting and sports registration efforts to online management. 



The ETHS alumna is known to go above and beyond, directing more than 90 summer camps, coordinating the athletic calendar, emceeing pep rallies, and much more. In addition to her daily duties, Harbison is treasurer for the ETHS Support Staff Union, helps coordinate the Black Caucus Honor Roll breakfast and ceremony, and serves on various committees.  

The ETHS Nutrition Services Team received an Award of Recognition from the Illinois State Board of Education’s 2019 "Those Who Excel" program. 

The Nutrition Services Team received an Award of Recognition in the Team category. The department remains committed to the wellbeing of ETHS students by providing healthy food options. Nutrition Services grows and harvests its own organic produce in three on-site locations (Edible Acre, Edible Orchard, and the school’s greenhouse) as a part of its collaboration with The Talking Farm, serving about 3,000 pounds of locally grown vegetables every school year.  

The team also prepares and delivers meals to District 65 schools, provides catering services for events held at ETHS, and takes part in the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program to offer employment opportunities to students who are interested in working in the school’s gardens over the summer.  

The Illinois State Board of Education distributed Awards of Excellence, Merit, and Recognition at the annual banquet on October 19. For more information about the Those Who Excel Awards, visit the ISBE website at https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Those-who-excel.aspx.