Jacobson's award reflects school's service

By Gina O’Neill
Copy Editor
When math teacher and Service Club head Dave Jacobson asked Math/Science Division Head Keith Bellof for a day off in October, Bellof was pleased to grant him the day off; he just wanted to know the reason for his request.
The next Monday, Jacobson handed Belloff a letter announcing that he had won the Illinois School of Social Workers’ Citizen of the Year Award, and the ceremony of recognition was scheduled on that October day.
“[The act] was a reflection of his humility,” Principal Kurt Laakso said.
Not only was the reward a “fun surprise” to Laakso, but Jacobson was also unaware that he was even nominated for this award. Only after he received the award in the mail did he call his cousin, a member of the IASSW, and find out that it was his idea to nominate Jacobson.
According to Jacobson, who uncovered the “big secret” of his nomination after everything was finished, his cousin wrote him a letter of recommendation, contacted counselor Rachel Brill and asked her to write an additional letter.
From there, the word spread slowly, but the few staff members that were involved were able to hide it well enough so that most other teachers had no idea.
Once Laakso heard the news, he sent out an e-mail and put the information on the staff announcements, and soon, Jacobson received about 30 e-mails in one day, laden with congratulations.
“[Staff members] all feel his recognition is much deserved,” Laakso said. “It could not have happened to a nicer guy.”
Laakso assumes that Jacobson received the award for his extensive work in the community, his “kind and thoughful” traits and his service.
Jacobson and Laakso both agree, however, that this award is not due to only Jacobson’s service, but to that of the students at Prospect as well.
Because of how much the students volunteer and help out the community, Jacobson considers this “a team reward.”
“All our students and all our staff are being recognized through this,” Jacobson said. “It’s not just me; it might be my name on the award, but it certainly reflects everything our students and staff have been doing.”
Jacobson has been teaching at Prospect for 28 years, and he has been the head of Service Club for 16.
When the counselor that was running service club in 1994 retired, the position was open, and Jacobson thought it would be refreshing; it was something different from teaching and allowed him to see his students in a different way.
Now, 16 years later, his decision to run service club along with his teaching have earned him an award. Yet, Jacobson feels a little out of place.
“I’m not used to accepting awards or praise,” Jacobson said. “I’m not in it for winning awards.”