Good News Sunday: Learning for Life instructor at Lisle High School helps students reach their potential

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

Ask Jen Milinki's students what they like about her and there's no hesitation - she's the best.

"She's a very outstanding teacher," said Zaylen Hubbard. "She makes my life good."

Others echo similar sentiments, saying the Lisle High School Learning for Life program instructor connects with them, helps them learn and encourages them.

"She's fun," adds Anthony Ramirez.

Milinki came to Lisle High School when it was looking for a way to bring back its students with significant disabilities. At the time, those students were participating in a program at another school. As a teacher in another district, Milinki spent part of her days in a similar program. She jumped at the chance to do the work full time and to create a new program.

She developed the school's Learning for Life program and started with just two students. Today, she has nine students of varied abilities. She also helped launch a similar program at the middle school level in Lisle Community Unit School District 202.

"She has been able to open up opportunities for our students with disabilities," said Jennifer Zimmerman, assistant principal for student services at Lisle High School.

Her passion to see students succeed helped launch the Blue Lion Cafe. The portable cafe, which opened in October, offers a menu of coffee, lemonade, tea, hot chocolate and other treats. It gives her students a chance to put math, social, verbal and other skills to use.

For the full story, click here.

Why pickleball has gotten so popular, even with that funny name

  Karen Bachman of Elgin hits a volley while playing doubles pickleball recently at the Centre of Elgin. Rick West/

John Cusack (not that John Cusack) remembers the first time he was introduced to pickleball about 10 years ago while on vacation in Palm Desert, California.

"I heard some people playing something behind a windscreen and they were laughing," he said. "I knew it wasn't tennis because people don't laugh in tennis."

Cusack, of Hoffman Estates, peeked around the windscreen to check it out. And in what he would learn is classic pickleball etiquette, he was immediately invited to try it out. He's been playing ever since.

"I love it, and I've met so many people," said Cusack, who at 79 plays four days a week at The Centre of Elgin. "It's a very social game."

Invented in 1965 in Washington state, the game combines elements of tennis, badminton and pingpong. It's played with paddles and a plastic ball with holes on a court similar to, but smaller than, a tennis court.

The sport has exploded in popularity, with a reported 39.3% growth over the last two years, and now has multiple professional leagues, with team owners that include LeBron James and Tom Brady.

For the full story, click here.

Mundelein firefighter lauded for saving child's life after crash

Mundelein firefighter and paramedic Dan Buhrmester was lauded at a village board meeting Monday for saving a young girl's life following a car crash he came across while off duty.

Mundelein firefighter and paramedic Dan Buhrmester was lauded at a village board meeting Monday for saving a young girl's life following a car crash he came across while off duty.

"Without Dan, this girl would have died," said Dr. Ben Feinzimer, director of emergency medical services at Highland Park Hospital.

While driving home Sept. 11 on the Tri-State Tollway near Northbrook during a rainstorm, Buhrmester, who had just dropped his kids at a party, pulled over to help after seeing a Dodge Durango SUV that had been badly damaged in a three-vehicle collision.

Despite the poor weather, being in civilian clothes and not having any firefighting equipment, Buhrmester hopped the median and assessed the victims. The parents were in shock, and their children were hurt, he said.

One, a 3-year-old girl, had suffered severe injuries and was in cardiac arrest. Buhrmester pulled her out of the SUV and performed CPR with help from a doctor who also stopped to assist until uniformed police officers and firefighters arrived and took over.

In all, three children from the SUV were hospitalized after the crash. All are expected to survive.

For the full story, click here.

• Good News Sunday will run each weekend. Please visit to sign up for our Good News Sunday newsletter.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.