Saying Thank You to Our School Board Directors

Public education is more than just the opportunity to learn basic math, science, English, and history; it’s a platform for students to reach their potential. It can inspire hope for a new generation of leaders and provide a foundation for a successful future. The Kennett Consolidated School District exists in part because nine individuals volunteer their time to make informed decisions about the issues facing our public schools.

Each January, we celebrate these everyday heroes, the nine elected School Board members who serve our students, district, and educational system. School Board members work hard, unpaid and behind the scenes, to guide the District in providing a quality education to more than 4,100 students. January is School Board Recognition Month, and the Kennett Consolidated School District salutes this special group of volunteers.

We do not usually think of School Board members as school volunteers, but they do in fact volunteer their time. School Board members give time, energy, and counsel to the District without pay. They take on the job of governing the District, making the best decisions they can for our children, with the full understanding that they will receive only the satisfaction of their contribution.

“That satisfaction comes from knowing that our collective efforts play even a small role in producing the fantastic students we have at all ages,” says Kendra LaCosta, Board President for Kennett Consolidated School District. “We are so proud of the administration, staff, and students in the District. We take very seriously our commitment to the District taxpayers to ensure that we are responsible with the budget, and able to approve the programs, policies, and people needed to help every child succeed.”

The volunteer efforts of the School Board members have the potential to provide tremendous benefit to the community as a whole, as well as to the lives of students individually. By serving the District in this important governance role, School Board members lay the foundation for the future. The School Board makes difficult decisions for the betterment of our students. Members vote on multi-million dollar budgets, hire staff, select textbooks, and review curriculum and bus schedules, to name just a few of the decisions they make for the District.

The men and women who make time to generously provide this important public service do so because they care. They care about their own children’s education. They care about the schools being the best they can be. They care about the next generation and the future of the community.

The nine dedicated volunteers who make up this year’s Kennett Consolidated School District School Board are: Mrs. Kendra LaCosta, President; Mr. Joseph Meola, Vice President; Mr. Michael Finnegan, Treasurer; Mrs. Aline Frank; Mrs. Heather Schaen; Mr. Rudy Alfonso; Mrs. Janis Reyolds; Mr. Dominic Perigo Jr.; and Mr. Robert Norris.

These dedicated volunteers live in our community. They are our friends, neighbors, and community leaders; they’re engaged citizens and parents at your school. During this month of recognition, we ask you to show your appreciation for their service. Please show your gratitude in some way for their time, effort, and dedication to public education’s advancement. Thank them for advocating on behalf of our collective interests and for making the difficult decisions. Most importantly, thank them for being everyday heroes and for making our students’ success their priority.

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A Spotlight on Mrs. Brooke Giffi

The sixth grade is an exciting year for any student. In Kennett Consolidated School District, sixth grade marks the transition from oldest in the elementary school to the newest students in the middle school. Fortunately for the students at Kennett Middle School, Mrs. Brooke Giffi is one of the teachers to who welcomes these transitioning students into the middle school.

Mrs. Giffi received her bachelor’s degree in education from West Chester University and has been teaching in Kennett Consolidated School District from the time she was student teaching. She continued to teach in the district while studying for her master’s degree in Instructional Systems, a degree that focuses on designing and implementing different instructional styles for all types of learners, which she received from Penn State University. After spending one year teaching fifth grade students at Greenwood Elementary, she moved to sixth grade, teaching first at Greenwood then moving to the middle school when it was built.

Her students often experience her countless roles: as a leader and role model, from time to time as a counselor; and always as a friend and mentor. In addition to the roles she fills for her students, she also serves as Facilitator and Presenter for the District’s Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) team.

Mrs. Giffi and other teachers from the District received training to teach in this relatively new instructional program. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, the SIOP model is “a research-based and validated instructional model that has proven effective in addressing the academic needs of English learners throughout the United States. Using instructional strategies connected to each of these components, teachers are able to design and deliver lessons that address the academic and linguistic needs of English learners.”

Additionally, Mrs. Giffi is on the Pennsylvania Schools to Watch team. This recognition program runs on both the state and national levels, and 17 states participate. The mission of the initiative is to “prepare students to be ready for college, career, and citizenship (and) make every middle grades school academically excellent, responsive to the developmental needs and interests of young adolescents, and socially equitable.” This initiative gives Mrs. Giffi the opportunity to observe other schools in Pennsylvania and recognize the excellence of practices in other schools in the state.

As with any career, teaching poses it’s challenges. Mrs. Giffi notes, “In general, time is always a challenge. But professionally, I find that keeping up with the changes in state standards and Common Core curriculum, having that looming over teaching practices, is challenging. Staying balanced with workload is also something that takes a lot of attention. I personally appreciate timely feedback and want to be sure I give that to my students, so grading and returning paperwork on time is something that is important to me and takes planning.”

Clearly, the challenges she faces prove themselves to be well worth the energy. Building relationships with students and seeing the creativity they display is an aspect of her job that Mrs Giffi lives for. “Connecting with students on different levels and finding new ways to pique their interests in order to help them grow and learn as individuals as well as academically is why I teach. Every day I feel a wow moment because each day my students learn something new, and that is just fantastic.” She loves

getting visits from previous students. She says, “It’s great to see them return after they’ve done some growing up, and I love to see who they’ve become as people.” Mrs. Giffi is the mother of two boys who are currently in sixth grade and tenth grade. She loves to cook and read, and she cherishes time spent with her sons, husband, and cats.

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Musicians Selected for District Festivals

Eight incredibly talented Kennett High School musicians have been selected by audition to various Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) District 12 Honor Festivals. District 12 includes Chester and Delaware counties and is undeniably one of the most competitive in the state.

Victoria Gonzalez (bass clarinet), Yvonna Liszewski (flute), and Evan Shinn (euphonium) will be a part of the District Band Festival, February 9 – 11 at Bayard Rustin High School. These students are directed at Kennett High School by Mr. Anton Romano.

Participating in the District Chorus, January 12 – 14 at Penn Crest High School, were Arielle Smith (soprano), Abbie Duckworth (alto), Yvonna Liszewski (alto), Mirella Petrillo (alto), Jimmy Rosser (tenor), and Zach Hrenko (bass). Ms. Katie Soukup is the choral director at Kennett High School.

District Orchestra will be held January 26 – 28 at West Chester University. Flutist Yvonna Liszewski will represent KHS. The Kennett High School Orchestra is conducted by Mrs. Jessica Williams.

Auditions for selection to the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District Festivals were held on November 19 at Bayard Rustin High School in West Chester. Students had to demonstrate excellence in major and chromatic scales, as well as solo performance, or choral selections, in order to earn the right to participate at the District Festivals. At their respective festivals, students re-audition for the opportunity to go on to Region and State levels.

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