Congratulations to Niles West’s 2023 Zemsky Teacher of the Year!

Tina Schmidt was awarded the 2023 Zemsky Teacher of the Year Award! She was nominated by many of her students and selected amongst the 46 nominees as the winner. Our student government completes this selection process by viewing all submissions without any indicators of name, gender identity, or department. 
Here are  few things Tina‘s students had to sY about her excellence as a teacher:


“Mrs. Schmidt is always pushing us to become better young adults. She gives the best advice and is our number 1 supporter. She cares about our education and always pushes us.”
“Mrs. Schmidt deserves this award because of the time she takes to learn about each of her students as people and not just students. She takes time to get to know us personally by learning about what we are involved in and what we enjoy doing outside of school. She understands that we are human, that we are busy, and that we make mistakes. However, she believes it is important to push us to work hard in school each day to reach our full potential. I look forward to going to her class each day because of the community environment she has built in the room. Everyone in the class is able to work together with ease, and it is a very supportive learning environment.”
Mrs. Schmidt goes beyond simply teaching students, she is truly an incredible being. Mrs. Schmidt assures her students understand the 
material through supporting every single step of our learning process. She encourages going to see her outside of class for extra support, understanding the importance of independence, and makes sure we feel supported either way. Mrs. Schmidt celebrates all of the accomplishments of our classmates (academic achievements, sports recognitions) – she is our biggest supporter. You can feel like love she has, not only her profession, but even more for her students. She highlights our hard work as individuals, leading us to feeling uplifted for being recognized. She has created an environment for her students to thrive and engage, simply with her persona as a human. She encourages mistakes as our way to learn from each other and grow together. She is amazing at what she does and continues to maintain such a great connection with each and every one of her students. I am genuinely so blessed to have come across such a phenomenal teacher as Mrs. Schmidt unconditionally is. “
When we surprised Tina during one of her classes today her students cheered and even embraced her in a hug, it is clear that she is having a huge impact in her classroom! Tina will be formally recognized during the Accolades ceremony on May 17th, but please take a moment to congratulate her if you see her!

Niles North Announced its 2023 Distinguished Alumni!


* * Distinguished Alum 2023 * *
Jody Cassman Gitelis, Niles North Class of 1969

Jody Cassman Gitelis graduated from Niles North in 1969.  As a student she served on student senate and on many committees including those for pep assemblies, homecoming, and girls’ dress code. Thanks to her work on the dress code committee, Niles North adopted the option for girls to wear pants to school.  Jody was a PE leader, cheerleader, and homecoming queen. She graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in Education.  She married her high school sweetheart and together they have three children.

Jody has spent the last 47 years coaching girls’ track and field at the high school level, spending the last 36 years at Barrington High School. She has coached numerous individual All Conference athletes and State Medalists; two of her teams have achieved the State Runner-Up Title.  She has been inducted into the Illinois Track and Cross Country Association’s Hall of Fame, selected by Illinois High School Association as Girls’ Track and Field Coach of the Year in 2008, and guided the Barrington High School Fillies to the state championships in 2007.  She has had a tremendous impact on the hundreds of girls she has coached both on and off the track.

Her former students have said, “Running has shaped my life,” and the Track & Field program Jody cultivated at Barrington High School fostered not only a love for running, but a desire to want to better oneself and overcome challenges.  She coached the entire athlete with compassion, not just focusing on improving speed or technique or winning meets, but focusing on improving mental strength and having a positive outlook.  She motivates, empowers, empathizes and believes in her students.  Jody teaches the value of creative problem solving and the importance of considering the input of others’ who have more experience and wisdom.

Jody’s guidance and positive coaching style continues to produce teams that come together to achieve so much more than they ever could have without her at the helm.  Her tireless work ethic and commitment to student growth and development have helped countless students meet their potential and face challenges they were experiencing outside of school.  She has been shaping the lives of young women, helping them achieve their dreams and be successful in life, empowering them to be strong and to believe in themselves.

It is important to remember that Jody’s role as a female head coach was not common 45 years ago. She has been a forerunner and her name continues to be legendary in Illinois when it comes to coaching Girls’ Track and Field and her impact on her athletes has led some of them to become successful coaches in the state as well. Those women always make it a point to come and see Jody and reiterate what a great role model they had and their own hope to impact the lives of young women just like she did for them.

Jody Gitelis undoubtedly engraved her mark, whether through the visible records set and awards achieved, or through invisible thumbprints imprinted on countless young female athletes’ hearts and minds. She is a perfect representation of what a Niles North Distinguished Alumnus exemplifies.

Niles North Distinguished Alumnus Award 2022-23 Nomination

Niles North High School is seeking nominations for the Distinguished Alumnus award. Nominations shall include supporting documentation about the nominee such as achievements in their field, significant contributions to their community, and their association with Niles North.

The award recipient will be requested to attend our annual Awards of Distinction program to accept their award and give a brief speech about their experiences in high school and post high school. The 56th Awards of Distinction will take place in May, 2022 (Exact Date, In-person or Virtual, TBD). At this ceremony, current students are also recognized for their accomplishments in areas of athletics, scholarship, and community engagement.

Previous nominations are taken into consideration each year. Nominations are accepted until February 28, 2023. Questions about this award, the nomination process, or selection process can be sent to [email protected].

Selection is made based on the following criteria:

  1. Graduated from Niles North.
  2. Attended at least three years of high school at a District 219 high school (this can also include Niles East).
  3. Has made a significant contribution to his or her field and/or in the community, and
  4. Had a meaningful experience as a student at Niles North High School.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
(1989 to Present)

2023 – Jody Cassman Gitelis, ’69
2022 – Lori Andre, ’76
2021 – Jayesh Rathod, ’93
2020 – Dr. Roxanne Henkin, ’69
2019 – Jose Moreno, ’02
2018 – Gregg Fleisher, ’79
2017 – Dr. Mark Rasenick, ’67
2016 – Marina Pazin, ‘00
2015 – Maxine Winer, ’79
2014 – Julie Smolyansky, ’93
2013 – David Ko, ’97
2012 – Dr. Michael Ruchim, ’72
2011 – Michael Kim, ’74
2010 – Dean Klassman, ’74
2009 – Pankaj Sharma, ’98
2008 – David Walton, ’94
2007 – Marc Silverman, ’89
2006 – Ross Deutsch, ’79
2005 – Carrie Hightman, ’75
2004 – Paul Toback, ’81
2003 – David Rosengard, ’70
2002 – Michael Jay Margules, ’78
2001 – Lynn Schreiber Price , ’73

  • “I was honored as a Distinguished alum several years back. Very touching. Most wonderful moment was I didn’t realize it was being televised on the local TV station. In my acceptance speech, I talked about three NN teachers who made a difference in my life. Turns out one of their friends was watching the show, called her, and subsequently I received a letter from her.
    Wonderful to be able to say thank you so many years later. ” – Lynn (Schreiber) Price, -73

2000 – Marc Schulman, ’72
1999 – Howard Friend, ’69
1998 – The Hon. Louis Lang, ’67
1997 – Edie Turovitz Kasten, ’75
1996 – Michael Krasny, ’71
1995 – Jay Footlik, ’83
1994 – Allen Sutker & Mark Polinsky, ’79
1993 – Neal Sabin, ’74
1992 – Irene Suzukida, ’70
1991 – Capt. Daniel L. Ley, ’77
1990 – Paul Lisnek, ’76
1989 – Dr. Steven Gitelis, ’69

Niles West Announced its 2023 Distinguished Alumni!


* * Distinguished Alum 2023 * *
Dr. Philip Zazove, Class of 1969

Philip Zazove was born essentially deaf though it wasn’t discovered until he was 4.  He was the first deaf person mainstreamed in public schools in the Northern Chicago suburban area. Similarly, after high school, several colleges rejected him because of his deafness. During all those years, he encountered many challenges and obstacles related to his condition and his consequent speech “accent.” Nevertheless, he succeeded.

Despite his excellent academic record at Northwestern University, Philip encountered rejection in his first thirty-four medical school applications. Undaunted, he persevered and was accepted at Rutgers Medical School.  He later transferred to Washington University in St. Louis where he received his M.D. degree.  As far as we know, he’s the third deaf physician in America.  Philip did his residency at the University of Utah Hospitals in Family Medicine received his Executive MBA from Northwestern a few years later.

After 8 years of private practice, Philip’s wife (also a physician) was recruited to be on the faculty at the University of Michigan.  He also joined the faculty, where after a year-long, national search, he was eventually selected Chair of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Due to his intellect and love of learning, his downright grit and his desire to serve others in medicine writ large, especially in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community along with the general disability community.  His inordinate proclivity to find ways to improve their lives through various efforts including pioneering research and philanthropic leadership combined make Philip a most deserving candidate for this recognition. He has authored and published close to 100 peer-reviewed medical articles and chapters and has written two books.  His first one, “When the Phone Rings, My Bed Shakes: Memoirs of a Deaf Doctor”, is an insightful read about his experiences along the way from his youth to his quest to becoming and practicing as a doctor.  The second is a novel featuring a deaf protagonist.  He has presented at numerous conferences and settings worldwide, with a focus on improving the health of people with disabilities.  Philip has taken on numerous local, state and national leadership roles, many of them geared to improve the lives of people with disabilities as well as to improve the health of all Americans.  He has also won multiple national awards for his service and work.

Philip’s sterling character, his indomitable spirit and exemplary concern for others comprise a set of intangibles which match his praiseworthy body of lifetime achievement in the face of his disability. His fabulous curriculum vitae would make him an exceptional candidate even if he had no hearing barriers. The hand he was dealt magnifies and makes more inspiring all that he has accomplished. He, along with his family, created a foundation 20 years ago which annually grants scholarship assistance to hearing-impaired college students. The number of awardees has grown over time, and there have been over 50 recipients of these grants of up to $16,000 thousand dollars per person over four years.

Philip and his wife have two daughters, four grandchildren, and two dogs.  He enjoys cross country skiing, kayaking, golf, good books, writing books and spending time with friends.

Niles West Distinguished Alumnus Award 2022-2023 Nomination

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given to select Niles West alumni. The selection is made by a committee of current Niles West students and members of the Education Foundation, based on the following criteria:

1. graduated from Niles West
2. attended at least three years of high school at a District 219 high school (this can also include Niles East),
3. has made a significant contribution to his or her field and/or in the community, and
4. had a meaningful experience as a student at Niles West High School.

The recipient of this award will be asked to attend our annual Senior Accolades program to accept their award and give a brief speech about their experiences in high school and post high school. The accolades ceremony will take place on May 17 at 7:00 PM . At this ceremony, current students are also recognized for their accomplishments in areas of athletics, scholarship, and community engagement.

Previous nominations are taken into consideration each year. Nominations are accepted until February 28, 2023. Questions about this award, the nomination process, or selection process can be sent to Sarah Struebing [email protected].

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
(2010 to Present)

2023 – Dr. Philip Zazove, ’69
2022 – Michelle Mekky, ’89
2021 – Amin Lakhani ’07
2020 – Megan Goldish, ’89
2019 – Brett Kopf, ’05
2018 – Marcy Lerner Steindler, ’77
2017 – Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, ’63
2016 – Judge Merrick Garland ’70
2016 – Dr. Robert A. Ganz, ‘72
2015 – Rich Beckman, ’72
2014 – Tom ’86 and Dita, ’86 (Jusufi) Merkel
2013 – Howard Sandroff, ’67
2012 – Dennis Hu, ’07
2011 – Judy Hsu, ’88
2010 – Dr. Steven Dayan, ’85

[Reminder] Final Meeting Tonight! High School Milestones with Dr. Harris

We are excited to continue our Family Engagement Series tonight with Dr. Harris from 6:30 pm-7:30 pm. In High School Milestones, we will explore how to best align the interests and aspirations of students with rigorous academic enrichment opportunities that the district has available. Please see the Zoom credentials below! Please contact Alexsandra ([email protected]) if you have questions in the meantime!

Join Zoom Meeting 

Meeting ID: 893 1847 2363