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Volunteers selected for 2024 Coskran Volunteer Award in District 191 

Volunteers selected for 2024 Coskran Volunteer Award in District 191 

Eight extraordinary volunteers have been chosen to receive the 2024 John Coskran Volunteer Awards in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191.

"I’m always amazed at the time, expertise and dedication that members of the One91 community are willing to give to support our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Theresa Battle. “This year’s Coskran Award winners exemplify our core value of ‘Caring Community.’ We are so grateful for their contributions."   

Winners will be honored during the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, June 13. 

Recipients of the 2024 John Coskran Volunteer Award are: 


  • Gage Blanford, an eighth grader at Eagle Ridge Middle School, is a member of the student council, a WEB leader, and participates in theater. He volunteers his time to support numerous organizations both inside and outside of school, including Open Door Pantry at Edward Neill Elementary, the K-9 booth at the state fair and the Twin Cities Ballet during its performance of The Nutcracker at the Ames Center.

  • Isabel Lange, a senior at Burnsville High School, is a member of the National Honor Society and Link Crew. She has volunteered with BrianPower in a Backpack for four years and was the point person for the food-sharing partnership between the 191 Community Pantry and Burnsville YMCA that provided year-round food support for 50 families. She’s also a team leader for the Bowls for BrainPower fundraiser and creates pottery pieces for the event.

  • Gerson Villalta Umana, a senior at Burnsville High School, is a Presidential Service Gold award winner who has volunteered more than 250 hours of his time toward causes he is passionate about. He is President of the affinity group Unidos Latinos, assists with EL courses, and is part of the group that plans Culture Week. This summer he will volunteer with Community Education. 


  • Jim Kaufmann is a volunteer with Adult Basic Education where for years he has mentored students as they prepare for their U.S. citizenship exam. He invests significant time and effort to ensure each student receives personalized assistance in preparing for their interview and tests. His care and compassion makes students feel confident and motivated to achieve their goals.

  • Shelley Swanson is a go-to volunteer for BrainPower in a Backpack. In addition to packing and distributing food throughout the year, she also supports in planning and setting up the annual Bowls for BrainPower fundraiser. Swanson is a wonderful example of the evolution of many District 191 volunteers, from an active parent supporting their students and teachers to a community volunteer supporting district-wide programs that make a difference for those in need.


  • Elizabeth Frerichs has volunteered at Harriet Bishop Elementary the last four years. She serves on the school's PTO and has led fundraisers like the annual read-a-thon, silent auction, and restaurant fundraisers that have raised more than $20,000 each year for the last four years. She’s also helped organize events like the Hornet Hop School Dance and Carnival, bingo and movie nights, as well as the fifth-grade send-off.

  • Lyn Kato began volunteering in Jennifer McCarthy’s class at Rahn Elementary when her son started kindergarten in the fall of 2021. The next year she was hired to help with lunch and recess, but she has continued to volunteer in the kindergarten classroom every day. Said McCarthy: “Lyn is warm, kind,caring, efficient, and hard-working. She sees when a need arises, and quickly helps students in the situation. The kindergarten students in these last three classes were helped tremendously by her.”


  • Mike Ceola is a physical education teacher at Sky Oaks Elementary. He comes in two hours early on Fridays to run a floor hockey tournament for 60-plus students at Sky Oaks. Cultural liaison Heidi Grant: “It is amazing to see the kids enjoy this activity that he leads. It means the world to them.”

This is the 22nd year of the awards, which are named in honor of John Coskran, a long-time advocate for volunteerism who served 34 years at Catholic Charities and retired as associate director in 1993. Mr. Coskran, who also served as a member of the District 191 Board of Education, died in 2014. 

For more information about the award or for information on how you can become a volunteer, go to the district website at