The Niehus Award

3-1984 Walter & Juanit Niehus

In 1986, the Niehus family established an award honoring the legacy of Walter G. and Juanita F. Niehus who made significant contributions to Plainfield School District 202.  Walter Niehus served as Superintendent of Schools from 1948 until 1967.  During his tenure, the school district grew from 526 students and 20 faculty to 2,952 students and 120 faculty.   Mr. Niehus presided over a number of firsts during his time as superintendent.   He initiated the first band program and the first kindergarten.  Under his leadership, academic programs were strengthened, courses were added and the schools became accredited by the North Central Association.  Among the many lasting contributions from the Walter Niehus era, perhaps the most enduring is Plainfield’s Homecoming.  With assistance from faculty, Mr. Niehus launched Plainfield’s first Homecoming on October 10-11, 1952.

Juanita Niehus was a respected teacher who taught Latin, Spanish, French and math.   She expanded Latin course offerings to a four year program and supervised a very active Latin Club.  She took students to the National Latin Conventions at many locations throughout the country.  Generations of her students appreciated the rigor of her teaching and benefitted from her enthusiastic encouragement and support. By choosing a Niehus Award recipient each year, the ideals, accomplishments and talents of Juanita and Walter Niehus are remembered and celebrated.

4-1981 Walter & Juanita Niehus, co-Grand Marshalls, Plainfield Homecoming

The Niehus Award honors an individual who displays the characteristics of service, dedication and excellence which were hallmark traits of Mr. and Mrs. Niehus.  Each year, colleagues and community members are urged to nominate candidates who demonstrate extraordinary commitment to Plainfield School District students.  The Foundation for Excellence administers the award and works with the Niehus family to honor a recipient who exhibits the same vibrant, enthusiastic dedication to the school district and its students that were so evident in the lives of Juanita and Walter Niehus.

5-1967  Walter & Juanita Niehus retirementHonored Niehus Award Winners

1986                  Tom Baker

1987                  Janice Keeley

1988                  Linda Schultz

1989                  Eugene Barnewolt

1990                  Paul Montgomery

1991                  Richard Eldred

1992                  Dr. Emmett Fleming

1993                  Bonnie McBeth

1994                  Karen Roppa

1995                  John Harper

1996                  Sharon Kinley

1997                  Michael Zbacnik

1998                  Karen Hamilton

1999                  Char McMillen

2000                  George Schlott

2001                  Leonne Wil

2002                  Richard Chavez

2003                  Jon Balke

2004                  John Murphy

2005                  George Capps

2006                  Robert Smith

2007                  Tod Schnowski

2008                  Patricia Jennings

2009                  Diane Saunders

2010                  Elaine McGrath

2011                  Lisa Klass

2012                  Audrey Stein

2013                  Laura Fahrner

2014                  Kathy Baxter


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