Lincolnshire District 102 Board member impacts countless classrooms
Buffalo Grove resident Ellyn Ross is member of the Aptakisic-Tripp Elementary District 102 School Board. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 3, 2012 1:35AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Ellyn Ross was inspired by her childhood teachers to always put forth her best effort.
“I wanted to be that person for others,” Ellyn Ross explained.
While she isn’t a teacher, according to the two significant awards she is set to win this month, Ross has been an inspiration for others.
Ross, a member of the Aptakisic-Tripp Elementary District 102 School Board and longtime volunteer at Stevenson High School, received the Buffalo Grove Rotary Club’s Bill Reid Community Service Award on Monday at Village Hall.
On Oct. 20, she is scheduled to receive the Illinois State Board of Education’s Award of Merit — Community Volunteer at a ceremony in Springfield.
For a woman who had originally wanted to be an educator, but found a purpose in the sciences instead, Ross said the pair of prestigious honors for her work in schools is hard to process.
“I feel humbled, but I didn’t do it for any kind of recognition,” she said. “I’m proud, but I’m not an island unto myself. I couldn’t do what I do without my family.
“They should get the award, not me.”
What Ross does is help oversee District 102’s budgets and policies as a board member since 2003. She also volunteers in Stevenson’s College/Career Center, the school’s Freshman Mentor Program and Odyssey, and serves as copresident of the Stevenson High School Foundation.
“I can state without reservation that Ellyn Ross has been the most supportive, time-giving, caring and involved community member that we have ever had at Stevenson High School,” superintendent Eric Twadell said in a press release.
Bill Balling, the former Buffalo Grove Village Manager who now chairs the Rotary Club’s Reid award selection group, added that Ross exemplifies the volunteer spirit of the honor’s namesake, the longtime Village Board member.
“We saw that in Ellyn’s service,” Balling said. “She really had the values and qualifications that we were looking for.”
What she did not have, though, was the career in education that she grew up thinking she wanted. When Ross graduated high school and chose the University of Illinois, she was interested in teaching, but her father encouraged a different route.
Whatever his reasons were, he wouldn’t let me become a teacher,” Ross said.
So she made the switch to microbiology. Ross did well in those studies, and poured her remaining free time into Alpha Phi Omega, a fraternity of volunteers, where she said she led the group in service hours every year.
Ross went on to spend 20 years at Lutheran General Hospital, and never considered going back to school.
“At this point, I am very happy,” she said. “I don’t need to be a teacher in the classroom any more. I have my profession.”
But the energy to volunteer followed her from Champaign to Buffalo Grove. She first signed up for District 102’s special education committee and Parent Teacher Organization committees.
“I think it was in my blood,” she said. “I wanted to have a bigger impact than just fund-raising.”
Though she did all right in that capacity, too. In her two years as PTO president, the group donated about $200,000 to Aptakisic-Tripp.
Now retired from microbiology, Ross said she has no full-time jobs in her future — just more volunteering.
“Someone did it for my kids, so I have to pay it forward,” she said.