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2023-24 Above & Beyond Awards recipient: Denise Schnabel

Denise Schnabel(04/03/24) “Denise is one-of-a-kind with her work ethic, passion for education and meeting student needs.” - Callie LeGarde, social worker at Evergreen Park Elementary - STEM School of Innovation.

You will rarely find principal Denise Schnabel in her office, rather, she’s often running around the school in her tennis shoes - pacing the hallways; popping into classrooms; meeting with special education, behavior and social work teams; or reporting for cafeteria duty - from the start until the end of the school day. “There is no job too small for Denise,” said Callie LeGarde, who nominated Schnabel for the award. 

Families share that they appreciate Schnabel’s open door, how quickly she responds to their inquiries, and the follow-up that she provides - whether it’s navigating student challenges as a school-family team or sharing in the academic or social successes for their student. “Denise is culturally responsive, empathetic and courageous in her relationships with our students and families. She has an ability to connect with everyone, to make people feel seen and cared for,” LeGarde added.

As principal of the school for the past six years, Schnabel cares deeply about the needs of Evergreen Park students and staff, and does all she can to ensure they are supported. Her school community can rely on her to empathize and problem-solve with staff, go the extra mile to provide a sense of calm for a dysregulated student or volunteer the school to pilot a new program. 

With a servant-leader mindset, Schnabel continually steps up with the best interest of the school community in mind, working to ensure her team is able to access any benefits or resources available in the district to their families. Schnabel goes above and beyond in collaborating creatively with school and district staff to utilize actionable professional development opportunities that provide staff with tangible changes to improve the outcomes for students. 

“Although Denise is responsible for so many things behind the scenes, she's still right there with us every day supporting students directly. [Her] skillset is truly something special. She does it all and with so much grace,” LeGarde said. 

The 2024 Above & Beyond Awards ceremony to honor Schnabel and 14 other exceptional employees will take place April 3 at the Educational Service Center (ESC).