Mother and daughter duo: Keeping education grants in the family

  • Mother and daughter Catherine and Betsy Prange of CUSD 200, each a recipient of Student Excellence Foundation grants.

    Mother and daughter Catherine and Betsy Prange of CUSD 200, each a recipient of Student Excellence Foundation grants. Courtesy of Student Excellence Foundation

Submitted by Jennifer Merck
Updated 5/10/2019 11:16 PM

The spark of mutual love and admiration is evident between the mother/daughter duo of Catherine Prange and Betsy Prange as soon as you see them together.

Both are recipients of Student Excellence Foundation grants: Catherine received hers in fiscal year 2019 while a special education aide at Emerson School in Wheaton; daughter Betsy received hers in fiscal year 2019 as a second- grade teacher at Pleasant Hill School in Winfield.


Both women acknowledged working together as they sought to write their grants: Catherine Prange's grant was for five iPad Airs with cases for the Primary Directive and Supportive class, where she was an aide; Betsy Prange's grant was for 20 Hokki stools for her second grade class.

Both grants specifically targeted FIT goals of Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200.

They talked about their passion for education and how each had found their sense of calling in their work at Emerson and Pleasant Hill.

Before becoming a certified teacher, Betsy worked with her mom at Emerson in her special education class.

Catherine and Betsy share background influences that continue today that are evident in the ease of their conversation and in being together. Betsy told how her mom will bake 3 loaves of banana bread in the morning, take two to Emerson, and bring one to Pleasant Hill.

But they share more than ideas and backgrounds: behind their relationship as mother/daughter, colleague/co-worker, and friends is the overwhelming influence of having a child with Down syndrome in their family.

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Catherine's son (and Betsy's brother) has Down syndrome. They both believe he is what is shaping them to advocate for students with special needs, as well as share his successes. They are unified on educating people on what Down syndrome is, what it looks like, and what a person with Down syndrome can achieve.

Their success not only comes from their mutual passions for education and students with special needs, and their love and respect for each other, but also from a unique ambition that seems to be hereditary. They truly love their work!

When asked what her next step goals are Betsy Prange answered that she "always wants a challenge; you have to see where the ideas take you!"

Given all that the Prange family has given to District 200, we are not at all surprised that Betsy Prange was one of the 2019 Distinguished Educator Award recipients. She also initiated a Fund-A-Classroom project for additional funds for her classroom.


Congratulations on this honor, Ms. Prange!

Do you know a Community School District 200 educator who would like to apply for a Student Excellence Grant?

The foundation offers a fall and a spring grant cycle each year. Betsy and Catherine both talked about how friendly the process was for applying for their grants through the Student Excellence Foundation. There were no restrictions on who they could collaborate with, or who could apply. One was staff and the other was a teacher. They both saw that anyone could write a grant who had an idea.

Any District 200 educator may apply for a Student Excellence Foundation grant. Classroom teachers, administrators, LLC Directors: any staff member with student contact is eligible to apply!

To read about other grants that have been provided to educators, visit the foundation's website,

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