An important part of celebrating Catholic Schools Week is the honoring of teachers, staff, and students for their tremendous work and school spirit. Each year, St. James School’s 8th-grade class votes for two students to receive the Christian Spirit Award. Students who receive this award exemplify what it means to be a St. James Bulldog. These are students who show academic excellence, proven character, service for others, and love of God.

This school year St. James School had six nominees: Ellen Denten, Alexis Horn, Maggie Mrema, Logan Justiniani, Derek Mysza, and Anthony Zebron. Winners, Ellen Denten and Derek Mysza, were announced at the all-school mass held Wednesday, February 3.

While administrators, teachers, and staff members do not seek out recognition, it is important that they are celebrated for tremendous work during Catholic School’s Week. For many years, the Archdiocese of Chicago has honored outstanding Catholic school employees through the Heart of the School Awards. The winning teacher exemplifies the FIND A WAY mentality in what they do for the school, students, and their colleagues. They utilize inclusive practices in their interactions with students, parents, and coworkers. They consistently put the needs of the students, families, and others before their own.  This year’s Heart of the School award was given to Saint James School Technology Coordinator, Mrs. Gina Zebron.

Gina Zebron, an Arlington Heights native, is not only a St. James School staff member but a current parent and St. James Alumna from the Class of 1991.  She came to St. James after spending 5 years in District 214 as a teacher and multi-year faculty coordinator for DECA-Student Business Club. In addition to her role as Technology Coordinator for the last three years, she is a parent volunteer for many activities including serving as last year’s school musical scenic designer, and regular mass cantor.

Some comments from fellow SJS faculty and staff members: 

  • “We all have worked extra through this pandemic but I think Gina has been doing A LOT more behind the scenes than what people see and she does it without saying anything. She is always stepping up willing to help!”
  • “She truly cares about SJS and what it stands for. There is not doubt her heart is in the right place and bleeds SJS!”
  • “She is always willing to go above and beyond with not only helping out teachers with random technology issues, but is a huge part in both the remote team and the social committee. She even is willing wear the Bulldog mascot uniform which is something not many of us would do! Aside from her strong work ethic, she always has a positive attitude and is willing to help any teacher or student with anything at the drop of a hat. Her true kindness and ability to always find a way makes her deserving of the Heart of the School Award.”
  • “There are so many reasons! First and foremost, morning announcements during Quarantine! They were amazing, maintained our sense of SJS community and were above and beyond! She is always willing to help and had done too many amazing things to list.”
  • “Gina is amazing! She is always willing to help, she’s a problem solver and she has done an amazing job with all of the remote learning and announcements. She is always approachable and a great listener. She is the heart of the school!”
  • “Gina works tirelessly to motivate the staff and students. She is always willing to help her colleagues. She goes out of her way to make St. James School excellent.
    Gina does so much for our school quietly behind the scenes. Her heart and soul is in SJS.

Gina Zebron is married to Jeff Zebron who volunteers as a St. James School athletic coach. They have three children currently enrolled at Saint James School, Anthony 8th grade (a Christian Spirit Award Nominee and Student Leadership President), Ben 6th Grade, Eli 1st grade.

Passion for education and community at St. James School is a family legacy for Zebron. Her mother, Kathy Davy, was a former 6th grade Social Studies and English/Reading teacher and served four years as the Assistant Principal until retirement. Her three sisters are all also St. James graduates: Julie Cohen, St. James Development Director and Alumna Class of ’88, and Michelle Koclanis Alumna Class of ’90.  (Together they have two St. James alumni (both sophomores attending Hersey High School) and four middle school children currently attending St. James) The youngest sister, Theresa, graduated in 1995.  Gina’s one brother-in-law, Todd Koclanis, has led Cub/Boy Scout Troops and coached athletics. Her other brother-in-law, Josh Cohen, is serving his 4th year as Athletic Director.

Our educational mission is lived out by the thousands of dedicated school employees who support our students every day. While our administrators, teachers and staff members do not seek out recognition, it is important that we celebrate their tremendous work. For many years, the Archdiocese of Chicago has honored outstanding Catholic school employees through the Heart of the School Awards.

For more information, videos, and pictures about Catholic School’s Week at St. James School visit https://www.facebook.com/StJamesSchoolAH  or www.stjamesschoolah.org