Retiring publicity coordinator Beth Preis showed District 30 in its best light

Retiring publicity coordinator Beth Preis showed District 30 in its best light

Beth Pesmen Preis refers to the words of retired Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich to describe her 26 years of service as Northbrook/Glenview School District 30 publicity coordinator.

Patience, perseverance, and joyful effort.

Preis will perform under this guidance for District 30 until June 30, when she heads into retirement. Beth Mistretta, a former Daily Herald reporter, will succeed Preis as communications coordinator on July 1.

"This is the 26th year, it's a long time. I've got a grandchild, Hannah, I want to pay attention to," Preis said.

"There's always a time for new blood in an organization, and my enthusiasm for the district never wavers, but I think there's a time and a place to do other things.

"Life is short, as I've found out the last few years - really short, and I want to enjoy it," she said.

It's been plain to see by the sheer number of releases and images she's shot with her trusty Cannon supporting the students, teachers, administrators and activities of Maple, Wescott and Willowbrook schools that she's enjoyed her work.

Spanning typed reports, newsletters and pictures on photo paper to email, Twitter and Instagram, she's sought to be "the positive voice of the district," she said.

"I always wanted to find something to make it shine," said Preis, born in Chicago and a Northbrook resident since she was a little girl in the mid-1960s. She graduated from Glenbrook North High School in 1973.

Beth Preis' sunny outlook is amazing considering the loss she's had in her life. Her first husband died of leukemia when their daughter, Sara, was less than 3 years old. Her second husband, Howard, died of pancreatic cancer in August 2020.

Sara is now 36 and lives in Arlington Heights. Son Jack is 30 and lives in Los Angeles.

Staying busy is one way to handle loss. After coming to District 30 from jobs as a freelance photographer for the Northbrook Park District and in promotion for Ogilvie & Mather and Marsh McLennan, in addition to volunteering her services and shooting weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs and local fundraisers, Preis has worked part time as an activities therapist at Covenant Living of Northbrook and as a publicist and photographer for an organization that lobbies on behalf of suburban schools.

"The teachers and administrators instilled in me a better sense of how to give back," she said.

Her baby with District 30 has been the annual Lew Blond Run, which she said started with a small school carnival to support the family of a Maple School teacher who later died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

In 2016, the Les Turner ALS Foundation honored the district for its support, which in 22 years has provided more than $225,000 to the foundation, awarded scholarships to students, and helped fund district efforts such as the all-abilities playground at the new Maple School, another recent achievement.

She said the first district superintendent she worked for, Harry Ross, instilled a "family feel" into the district. Current Superintendent Brian Wegley, himself retiring after the 2022-23 school year, gets Preis' glowing review for moving the district forward.

"There are very few people that have all the aspects of great leadership, and he does - social, emotional and intellectual," she said. "Just watching someone who's such a great leader, it's an honor, it really is."

Preis' 91-year-old mother, Sandra Pesmen, a member of The Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame after a career with the Chicago Daily News, Crain's Chicago Business, and North Shore magazine, still lives in Beth's childhood home. Beth would like to spend more time with her, now that she's got it.

She'll also begin the task of cleaning out her 60-year-old home. Putting her Southern Illinois University bachelor's degree in agriculture to use, she hopes to devote more time to interests such as Go Green Northbrook and Monarchs, Milkweed and More.

Preis will do so with patience, perseverance and joyful effort. It's worked for 26 years at District 30.

"I wanted to highlight and showcase the positive aspects of an excellent school district," she said. "I just want to always show it in the best light, because the teachers, the administrators and the kids deserve that," she said.

"We're fortunate in a community like Northbrook and Glenview to be able to have the best education, the best buildings, the best facilities, the best tools for social, emotional and intellectual learning, and I felt a huge responsibility to keep it promoted in its best light."

Beth Preis will retire June 30 after 26 years with Northbrook/Glenview School District 30. Courtesy of the Preis family
At the 21st Lew Blond Run on May 21 in Northbrook are, from left, Maple School principal and Lew Blond Foundation President Sam Kurtz, Willowbrook School Principal Scott Carlson, Beth Preis and Willowbrook teacher Aimee Neumann. Courtesy of Northbrook/Glenview School District 30
Students in Xenia Stamoudis' first grade class at Wescott School created illustrated notes of appreciation for retiring publicity coordinator Beth Preis. Courtesy of Beth Preis
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