Sarah Hanson is the 2008 Phyllis Ganser Outstanding PTA Volunteer of the Year Award winner.

Each year this honor is presented to acknowledge one of the many PTA volunteers who make things happen for the students in Evanston schools.

“Sarah has made it her business to improve the school environment for all children. She has remained involved after serving as co-president, often a difficult task. When Sarah was concerned about the teachers’ involvement with the Nichols PTA, she went about finding out how they would prefer to be involved in order to gain participation,” said Sue Ganser as she presented Sarah with a certificate at a recent District 65 Board of Education meeting.

Sarah’s name will be added to a plaque that hangs in the Joseph E. Hill Education Center.

The award is named for Phyllis Ganser, a District 65 & 202 alumna who was recognized for her many efforts and contributions to the PTA as a volunteer. The specific qualities that Phyllis Ganser demonstrated provide the criteria for award nominees, which are:

  • A commitment to the PTA goal of promoting the welfare of all school children
  • A willingness to work in any capacity (even behind the scenes)
  • A spirit and enthusiasm for volunteer work.
  • A demonstrated ability to engage and involve other volunteers.

Additionally, the award recipient must be a member of the PTA.

Each year, many nominations are received for a number of outstanding volunteers, including, this year’s nominees, Tracy Aiden, Lisa Hershenson, Mindy Wallis, Sue Jolie, Michelle Ney, and the husband and wife team Ione and Steve Novak.

However, the Ganser Award recipient this year is Sarah Hanson, for her involvement with the Washington and Nichols PTAs over the course of more than 15 years.

She is the parent of three children, the oldest, Kali, currently in college, Margaret at Evanston Township High School, and Jack, a Nichols Middle School student.

Sarah, clearly a leader in her PTA community, yet her nominators says that “no task was ever too big or too small for Sarah Hanson.” She is a past co-president of the Nichols PTA and served this year as co-chair of the Nichols School largest community-building event, Family Fun Night.

To anyone who has ever worked on the nominating committee of a volunteer organization, perhaps Sarah’s greatest accomplishment might seem to be her ability to successfully work with a committee to fill a slate of over sixty positions.

She is described with high praise: “Sarah’s relentless involvement in both the Washington and Nichols PTAs speak to her incredible commitment and love of the PTA as an organization.” Sarah is a tireless volunteer who vividly exemplifies the committee’s criteria.

In January of 2000, Phyllis Ganser, passed away after a two-year battle with breast cancer. Shortly before her death, the Council of the Districts 65 and 202 PTAs, in recognition of Phyllis’ outstanding contribution as a PTA volunteer, established an award in her name, of which she was the first recipient. Phyllis, a Dawes School, Skiles Jr. High, and ETHS alumna herself, was the mother of three children who were students in the districts at the time of her death.

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