Abigail Davoust, Wheaton
Abigail Davoust has been drawing since she was a little girl and was recently honored for her talent in a very big way. Her in-laws, David and Lisa Davoust, wrote a book, Building Better Humans, for which Abi was the illustrator. Her first published book earned Abi the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Illustration Award, and most recently, the Silver Award for nonfiction cover design with Independent Book Publishers Association. “In both competitions, there were a lot of excellent submissions. It may sound cheesy, but I really was honored to be included and then to win. Wow!” she said.
Each chapter of Building Better Humans, which is a parenting book, opened with one of Abi’s illustrations. “My challenge was to create a family of illustrations that accompanied a range of parenting topics--from Taming Technology to Kids in Crisis. It was such a great project to work on and now to have received this recognition--it’s really quite terrific,” she said.
Abi works full time in a different field but said that illustrating is her passion. “I want it to always be part of my life, if not full-time, than freelance,” she said. Abi is working on other projects, encouraged by her recognition thus far. “I’m excited to see what happens next!” she said.
1. Who is your favorite artist/illustrator role model? Bill Waterson. I love his ability to tell a story in just a few images and the big expressions. Truthfully though, I don't have just one favorite. When I’m at a bookstore, I love wandering over to the children's book section to discover new artists and styles.
2. What do you like best about illustration? The chance to make someone smile! I love it when the picture comes together. When a drawing starts as an idea and then becomes a character with depth as well as flaws. The creative process is so personal but the outcome is something that can be shared with many.
3. What would a quick word of advice be to young people pursuing their passion? Draw, draw, draw! Try out as many media as you can. Listen to critics, they'll push you to be better but don't let them shape your style. That has to come from you.
Sue Keenan, Glen Ellyn
This local resident was recently awarded the American Association of Community Theatre’s Spotlight Award.
Keenan was one of the fourteen founders of the Village Theatre Guild 52 years ago and is the only remaining founder still in the area. She said that she is not surprised at Village Theatre Guild’s longevity. “I believed in it from day one and continue to do so,” she said.
Richard Gannon, board member of AACT who presented the award, cited Keenan’s name as being “almost synonymous with VTG,” adding that her credits include but are not limited to directing 22 productions, acting in 25 shows, serving on the board of directors for seven terms, and welcoming and mentoring the members of the theater community. The American Association of Community Theatre supports over 7,000 theaters nationwide and one million volunteers. In honoring Keenan, Gannon said, "Is there anyone here tonight who doubts that we are in the presence of someone who is truly one in a million?" -Wendy Foster
Who would you say is your theatrical role model? Meryl Streep
What is it you love best about theater? Creating shows, either on stage or directing. I truly love
What is a word of advice you’d share with others pursuing their passion in any field? If you love it, you’ll find a way to do it.
Jim Brown, Naperville
Commitment is a lifestyle for Jim Brown. He has been married to his wife, Marcia, since 1966, has lived in the same Naperville home since 1968, has been volunteer-coaching the Naperville St. Raphael football team since 1969, and has been the volunteer president of the St. Raphael Football League since 1975. Jim respects and admires athletes that are leaders on the field, deal with adversity well, act from their values, and give back to others on and off the field. He enjoys watching the St Raphael children learn the life skills necessary to be successful, and then seeing them teach them to others. “The St. Raphael football program uses football to develop these types of life skills; acts from its values, as opposed to allowing actions to dictate values; therefore, requiring participants to treat one another with respect,” Jim says. He used his experiences to author a book, More Than a Game, about values and life skills and their contribution to championship sports, family and corporate teams. As he retires this year, Jim will transition to an assistant role and begin working on his second book. -Kristen Kucharski
Did you personally play football in your youth, high school, college years - if so, where and what position? I played high school football –quarterback - walked on at Northwestern for two weeks until school started. I did it to satisfy a spirit of adventure and to make friends. I had a significant talent deficiency.
What inspired you personally to want to play football when you were young? It was fun - a developmental experience – competitive - and I made a lot of good friends.
What is your favorite football play? 48 with the works (an end run with pulling guard and tackle; a crack back block; and a fullback kick out with tail back carrying the ball)
Kerry Haake, Naperville
Although born and raised in California, this Naperville resident is a fiery, independent Irish woman who loves the simple, rugged beauty of Ireland plus the hot fashions of big cities. “San Francisco has a tremendously diverse population; you knew which neighborhood you were in purely by dress and I found each style and the use of color incredibly interesting,” Kerry says. As a wife and mother, her style of choice is “Throw and Go!” Kerry’s favorite looks include leggings, boots, and an artsy top with layers of necklaces that she picked up on her travels. She also loves her gorgeous, airy, Chan Luu dress over a solid slip with cowboy boots. “I top it off with one of my favorite beaded necklaces that I picked up last summer in Hanoi,” she says. Locally, Kerry loves trying new looks “from amazing designers at Ootra” in Naperville. “I can always find something at Anthropologie; and Little Luxuries has a gorgeous selection of jewelry,” she adds. “I also love L'Apollinaire in Geneva.” Outside of the U.S., Kerry loves L'Atelier de Soierie in Lyon, France, for their long tradition of silk manufacturing, as well as N Silk in Hanoi for their gorgeous custom-made shirts and dresses. “I love the outdoor markets; fashion doesn't need to be expensive.”
1. What is your current profession - does it relate to fashion?
I recently left my position as the children's director at The Compass Church, though I traveled to Vietnam with a team from the church in July to work with children and church pastors. I am on several boards as well--The Alive Center, CASA of DuPage. I'm an officer with the Sovereign Order of St. John and will be spending some time helping to promote Team World Vision.
2. Do you speak any languages other than English?
A smattering of Spanish, French, Vietnamese and Russian.
3. In your opinion, what is the next hot fashion trend that we will see this fall/winter?
Clean, fresh lines and funky furs and capes; and gold, lots of gold!
Maddi Jane, Wheaton
Like most west suburban 16-year-olds, Maddi Jane loves the song, “Honey I’m Good," by Andy Grammer, and looks up to classic R&B artists such as Whitney Houston, as well as girl pop icons Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Rihanna, JoJo, and Brandy; but, with over 1.3 million Facebook fans, 1.87 million YouTube subscribers, and her own name in the Billboard Social 50 chart, Maddi Jane is not your average teen with over 315,000 obsessed Twitter followers called "Maddians!” This singer, songwriter, and musician has been singing since she could talk and indulged her passion for her craft by performing locally at Spotlight Youth Theatre, the DuPage County Fair, Parkview Community Church, and fine arts events at her high school, Wheaton Academy. Then in 2010, she appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where she stunned audiences with her rendition of “Breakeven” by The Script. Since then, her YouTube covers have accumulated over 360 million views. Maddi Jane just released her latest EP, “Maddi Jane,” on July 24. Be the first to download it from iTunes at https://itun.es/us/sD2E6. -Kristen Kucharski
1. What is your favorite social media outlet and why? YouTube because I get to share the full versions of my songs with my fans through it.
2. Was being on the Ellen show your biggest Hollywood moment to date? The Ellen show was definitely what gave me the initial push of having people come to my channel. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to write with Claude Kelly (won BMI songwriter of the year 2012) and his team of writers which was a huge learning and awesome experience for me. I’ve also been working with hip hop icon Chris Gotti, who has brought many opportunities to learn more about the industry and how to be better at what I do.
3. What has been your favorite fan moment to date? Last summer a girl a little younger then me ran over to me and hugged me in the lobby of my hotel before a concert. At first, I was surprised and caught off guard, but then her mom walked up and told me that they had driven about six hours to see me. They were so sweet and genuine. That memory has really stuck with me.
Jon Bobbe, Sugar Grove
When it comes to music, teaching is Jon’s passion. As the owner/instructor of The Right Pick in Sugar Grove, he loves seeing the joy his students experience when they have “light bulb moments” — a true understanding of their instruments, followed by the ability to play them on a whole new level. An encouraging and highly approachable teacher with 31 years of experience, Jon is most rewarded by the relationships he is able to form with his students. “Every student learns their own way and every student has different goals, whether it’s learning a few chords or going on to college as a guitar major,” Jon says. His passion for music translates to patience with helping all of his students grow, including students with special needs. His most rewarding moment to date includes a young boy on the autism spectrum who was able to fine-tune his motor skills through his enjoyment of music and playing the guitar. Jon provides lessons in students’ homes or his home studio, allowing for their personal comfort and convenience.
1. Do you only teach guitar lessons? I teach guitar (any genre besides slide), ukulele, banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, and drums.
2. Who is your musical idol? Choosing a musical idol is difficult too. There are so many accomplished guitarists: Andrés Segovia for bringing the guitar to be a recognized classical instrument; Mark Knopfler for his musical stylings, abilities and his loyalties to his band ages; and B.B. King for making electric blues what it is today.
3. What has been the age of your youngest student? Your oldest student? My youngest student was four (starting age depends on the individual and the focus that they can generate); my oldest, 72.
Brayer Teague, Downers Grove
Brayer Teague, the chairman of the fine arts department and band director at North High School, has touched the lives of thousands of students in his 21-year tenure at the school. As a resident of the community, it’s not uncommon for him to see people he knows around town. “It’s so much fun to run into former students and catch up with them, but my kids tease me about how often I’m stopped as we walk through town,” Brayer admitted.
“We average 250 kids in the band program each year. Part of the job as the fine arts department chairman is to oversee visual arts and music. There are 500 students at any given time in music, and 500 in art. We’re proud of those numbers. They’re strong,” said Brayer. “Downers Grove is a community that really supports the arts. “
Brayer said that 15-20 of the students he’s taught through the years have decided to pursue music education themselves. “That’s very rewarding, to see students that want to continue to share their love of music.”
Brayer, who is president-elect for Illinois Music Educators Association, has been named a quarterfinalist in the Grammy Foundation’s Music Educator Award. Only 213 music teachers nationwide are part of this unique group, of the more than 4500 teachers nationwide who were nominated. The award recognizes educators who have made a "significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education.” Finalists will be named this fall. -Wendy Foster
1. Who is your greatest musical role model? My greatest mentor and role model - both as a conductor of music and as an educator - was John P. Paynter. Mr. Paynter was the director of bands at Northwestern University from 1953 - 1995. He was revered worldwide as a brilliant musician and teacher, and I was very fortunate to have been his student. There’s not a day that has gone by in my first 25 years of teaching when I didn't think of Mr. Paynter or try to connect with students in a way that I think would make him proud.
2. What is one thing that you like best about teaching music? I love working with students to chart a course toward excellence, and helping them develop the collaborative skills to reach or exceed their goals.
3. What is a word of advice to students who want to pursue their passion? Regardless of the discipline that is your emerging “passion,” find others who have gone before you in that discipline, and talk to them. Find out what their journey entailed. Whatever obstacles or hardships they encountered along the way, a student should presume that they will be presented with very similar challenges. If those challenges sound exciting, or even motivating, then GO FOR IT!