The Niehus Award

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The Niehus Award

5-1967 Walter & Juanita Niehus retirementIn 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.


5-1967 Walter & Juanita Niehus retirementJuanita 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.




Tom Baker 1986
Janice Keeley 1987
Linda J. Schultz 1988
Eugene Barnewolt 1989
Paul Montgomery 1990
Richard Eldred 1991
Emmett Fleming 1992
Bonnie McBeth 1993
Karen Roppa 1994
John Harper 1995
Sharon Kinley 1996
Michael Zbacnik 1997
Karen Hamilton 1998
Char McMillen 1999
George Schlott 2000
Leonne Will 2001
Richard Chavez 2002
Jon Balke 2003
John C. Murphy 2004
George Capps 2005
Robert Smith 2006
Tod Schnowske 2007
Pat Jennings 2008
Diane Saunders 2009
Elaine McGrath 2010
Lisa Klaas 2011
Audrey Stein 2012
Laura Fahrner 2013
Dr. Kathy Baxter 2014
Dave Stephens 2015
Joan Woolwine 2016
Linda DiLeo 2017
Michel Pawlak 2018
John Bayer 2019
Tony Manville 2020
Mina Griffith 2021
Lane Abrell 2022