Kennett Education Association Recognizes Top Students

The Kennett Education Association (KEA) held its 26th Annual Scholarship and Awards Reception, May 30, to recognize outstanding students for their academic merit and school citizenship. These students represent the excellence that the members of the Association encourage in the Kennett Consolidated School District.students standing in two rows with awards

The Kennett Education Association is the professional organization of teachers, librarians, guidance counselors, school nurses, and school social workers of the Kennett Consolidated School District. Each year members of KEA select students from different levels and disciplines for special recognition for their outstanding academic achievements and school citizenship qualities. The awards are funded by contributions from members of KEA. This event represents over $7500 in support by members.

Receiving awards for their accomplishments at the elementary level were fifth graders Sadie Maxwell and Bryan Calderon (Bancroft Elementary School), Emerson Wolff and Owen Orpello (Greenwood Elementary School), and Sahana Shivakumar and Martin Hernandez (New Garden Elementary School). These students were awarded certificates and $50 book gift cards.

Recognized for their performances at Kennett Middle School were eighth graders Alondra Herrera-Esquivel and Rio Jeffrey King who received certificates and $100 book gift cards.

Earning accolades at the high school level for excellence throughout their high school careers in their disciplines were seniors Jacqueline Tucker (Business Education), Lydia Pebly (English) Juan Martinez (Fine Arts), Zachary Hrenko (Mathematics), Yvonna Liszewski (Music), Gemma Erickson (Social Studies), Madison Brown (Technical Arts), Cullen Abelson (Science) and Henry Shattuck (World Languages). Each of these awards carried with it a check for $200.

Association President Michael Kelly presented the most prestigious award of the evening to senior Lydia Pebly who will be pursuing a teaching career. Mr. Kelly congratulated Lydia on winning the KEA Award in not only 5th grade and 8th grade but also two times that night. He also welcomed Lydia into the profession and commended her for her dedication to building the future. In her application letter, Pebly did not write about knowing that she wanted to be a teacher from early on. In fact, she wrote that that decision did not occur until this year.

Mr. Kelly remarked, “Lydia believes now that teaching is her purpose. Hoping to make an impact and inspire her students just as her teachers have impacted and inspired her.”

Mr. Kelly presented Ms. Pebly with scholarship money in the amount of $5000 to be paid over her four years of college.

A reception hosted by KEA followed the presentations.

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Kennett High School Students Exhibit Work

Last week Kennett High School artists displayed their talents for their fellow students, teachers, staff, and the Kennett community. The show, held in the school’s auxiliary gym, was open to the public for viewing on Wednesday evening, and students and staff also had the opportunity to attend the show during the school day on Thursday.

The show included works from all visual arts classes within the Fine Arts Department, as well as the art honor society and the photo club. Teachers Mrs. Jodi Davidson, Mr. Tom Hironimus, and Mrs. Kathy Caputo Nelms guided their students through the creation and exhibition of their artwork; all three teachers are undeniably impressed by their students.

Mrs. Caputo Nelms said, “The artwork created by the students of Kennett High School is amazing. The exhibit featured a variety of drawings, paintings, photography, ceramics, and graphic designs. There was also a closing reception held by the Art Honor Society, attended by student artists, family, and friends.”

“Kennett High School art students are extremely hard working and incredibly talented. They are dedicated to getting better every day and being the best they can be. It is a blessing to be surrounded by such enthusiastic and committed students,” added Mr. Hironimus.

“The Kennett High School students in our Ceramics classroom constantly amaze me with their dedication, creativity, and willingness to explore new techniques and challenge themselves daily. I love working with the kids here at KHS, and each day is a new opportunity for everyone to continue to learn and grow as a student of life,” said Ms. Davidson.

Mr. Charlie Lewis, former Kennett Middle School teacher who creates etchings, and Mrs. Ellen Catanzaro, a painter and parent of junior art student, Claire, also displayed their work and were available to talk to students. And, the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) used the opportunity to disseminate information and raise funds for the organization.

By all accounts, the show was a success. High school principal Dr. Jeremy Hritz observed, “The talents of our students are undeniable, and they were on full display at this year’s Art Show. It was an enjoyable experience to see the passion and creativity of our students embodied in the various works of art. KHS students are simply amazing.”

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A Spotlight on Mrs. Colleen Thurmond

Avid readers agree that to open your mind, you need only open a book. Mrs. Colleen Thurmond, the Response to Intervention (RtII) Teacher at New Garden Elementary School, teaches students to use reading this way.

Mrs. Thurmond has taught everything from preschool to fifth grade in her 32-year career; 29 of those years have been at New Garden Elementary. She attended West Chester University and received her undergraduate degree in elementary education before receiving her master’s in literacy, allowing her to become a reading specialist.

“At each opportunity, I’ve learned so much about teaching,” explains Mrs. Thurmond. “I constantly strive to try new positions to learn more at every level. It has been a lot of fun to explore different opportunities.”

Mrs. Thurmond knew early on that she loved education, so after college she went right into teaching at the preschool level in Connecticut. Next, she got a classroom teaching position in South Carolina. She loves Southeastern Pennsylvania, so she moved back and got a job at Kennett Consolidated School District as a fifth-grade teacher. She has been with the District ever since. While her primary focus is on reading, she also enjoys teaching math, social studies, and science.

“When I first started teaching, I wanted to learn more about how kids learn to read,” says Mrs. Thurmond. “I was intrigued by the learning process. Response to Intervention covers reading, writing, and math. This approach looks at the whole child to see how they’re progressing across the board. Every aspect is considered. We even look to see if their behavior could be affecting their learning.”

Mrs. Thurmond puts interventions and strategies in place to be sure that every student is successful. If a student is struggling with fluency, for example, Mrs. Thurmond will have them do repeated readings. The idea behind this is that as a student re-reads a story or passage, they will begin to feel more comfortable with the words. The more comfortable they are with the words, the more they will comprehend the passage.

“I work with students in first through fifth grades, so it can be challenging to make sure all students are progressing. We look at math and reading data three times a year: fall, winter, spring. This lets me take the pulse and see how students are doing. Some students are monitored more frequently. Then, of course, I follow up to make sure that the strategies are working.”

Watching the students grow is a big reason why Mrs. Thurmond loves her work. Students begin in first grade as one type of learner and leave the school a whole new person, both academically and personally.

“I really get to know the students, and the parents too,” says Mrs. Thurmond. “It’s great fun to have that community feeling when working together with the students. It’s fun to see the spark in their eyes. Students will tell me ‘I can’t read’—then, usually around January, all the pieces begin falling together and they say, ‘I can read!’”

In addition to her role as the Response to Intervention (RtII) Teacher at New Garden Elementary School, Mrs. Thurmond is also a Shelter Instructional Observation Protocol (SIOP) facilitator and presenter for the District, as part of a program that helps students build their background knowledge to help them learn in the classroom. She serves on the English Language Arts (ELA) Committee, which is working on developing a “grammar scope” to look at what’s being taught and when. She is also on the Word Study Committee, which looks at phonics development and vocabulary from kindergarten through middle school and is evaluating materials that will benefit all learners.

Outside of school, Mrs. Thurmond loves to read and spend time with her husband of 30 years, Benton, and daughter, Jaime, who graduated from the Kennett Consolidated School District. She also loves to spoil her three pets: one dog and two cats. Her happy place is the beach.

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KMS Students Produce Winning Video

Five Kennett Middle School students took on the challenge of discovering “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” by creating a two-and-a-half-minute video of their visit to Schramm, a century-old manufacturer in West Chester and global supplier to the hydraulic drilling industry.

Read more by clicking here.

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