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NKY Education Council shines light on excellence with awards to top educators, students and others

The Northern Kentucky Education Council presented its annual celebration of excellence in education event to honor teachers, students, businesses and advocates.

The event, held at NKU’s BB&T Arena, was sponsored by BB&T, Duke Energy, Strive Partnership, Chick-fil-A, PNC and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Terri Cox Cruey served as Superintendent for Kenton County School District- during her tenure as Supt. the district which is the 4th largest in the state received the state level Distinguished status for 2 years in a row. The 6 Academies of Innovation and Technology were implemented based on the future needs of our workforce and the first P-8 STEAM Academy in the region was implemented at Summit View.

Gene Kirchner, Superintendent of Ft Thomas Independent School District- His colleagues had this to say- under Gene’s direction- the district realigned their mission and vision directed toward 21st Century outcomes. A bold, district-wide digital conversion plan that puts the power of technology into the hands of every teacher and student was implemented- (the first of its kind in the state) and he was responsible for the completion of major renovation at the Highlands High School campus and new construction at Woodfill and Moyer Elementary Schools – turning these buildings into modern, high-tech learning spaces.

Ron Livingood, retired Superintendent, Grant County School District colleagues shared the following- Implemented a concentration on hybrid college and career pathways that connect students directly with industries. Established the Grant County Schools Education Foundation and 3 programs within the Foundation: Scholarship, Distinguished Alumni, and Recognition of Model Classrooms. Provision of steady, ethical leadership that included formal leadership training opportunities for potential future leaders within the district.

Sally Skinner, retired Superintendent, Williamstown Independent School District colleagues had this to say- With the future always in mind Mrs. Skinner has been a prominent voice in the construction of Loop Road and its possibility to open our campus for further expansion. Purchased a Wi-Fi bus to ensure that students have continual access during transportation to Gateway, and extra -curricular activities. Instrumental in bring “Footsteps to Brilliance” to the Williamstown community giving our earliest learners anytime –anywhere access to literacy and added a cutting edge Aerospace program as a career pathway.

A.D. Albright Outstanding Administrator Award
John Riehemann, Principal, Lloyd Memorial High School

Although John is retiring after 18 yrs. of leadership; he is leaving behind a great legacy. He was known to create a culture of trust, empowerment and high expectations within his building. He has also helped many others move into leadership positions.

John was past President of the Northern KY Association of Secondary Principals. He implemented many programs at Lloyd including the NKYU Scholar’s Program and the Gateway Regional Academy Program. He was the first to champion the RTI (Response to Intervention) process and implement it with fidelity. Due to his diligence, Lloyd has earned the classification of “Distinguished” in three of the last four years. John is a founding member of the Lloyd Memorial High School Veterans Memorial which publicly recognized the military service of every Armed Service Veteran that has attended Lloyd High School. He also collaborated to create a Town Hall meeting to discuss and attack the impact of heroin on the community.

A.D. Albright Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award
Ashley Ritchie, Beechwood Elementary School

The nominator for this year’s A.D. Albright Outstanding Teacher of the Year had this to say; “Ashley Ritchie is one of those teachers who others look to as a guide for how to teach with rigor. Whether she is teaching students or adults, Ashley always captivates her audience. Her professional mantra is “Setting the stage to engage.”

Understanding the need for a morale boost for faculty Ashley researched and found a leadership academy that she along with the principal and a few of her peers attended during the summer. In collaboration with her peers a “Superhero” theme was implemented and it has been a game-changer for school culture.”

Golden Apple Winners

Katie Gibbons

Elizabeth Koch

Ashley Ritchie

Ashley Ritchie (2nd Grade; Beechwood Elementary; 12 yr. veteran) Ashley holds a National Board Certification and is considered a true leader among her peers. She uses a hands-on approach to teaching and her classroom is designed for center-based learning. Ashley’s mantra is “Setting the stage to engage” whether she is educating her students or peers.

Elizabeth Gibbons Koch (Grades 3-5 Enrichment; Florence Elementary; 12 yr. veteran) Elizabeth has experience as a Math Specialist and LEGO League Robotic Coach and Coordinator. She has built strong student, parent and community relationships to benefit her school. Elizabeth empowers her students to become leaders and they leave her classroom with an “I can do anything” mentality.

Katie Gibbons (5th Grade Science; R.C. Hinsdale Elementary; 13 yr. veteran)
Katie volunteers to work with students that struggle academically. Katie’s students use computer-based learning to explore all areas of STEM. Katie also leads her school’s Academic Expo. Katie’s philosophy is “Believe that EVERY student can learn at higher levels and the students will believe in themselves.”

Michelle Willoughby

Carrie Skirvin

Lisa Cooper

Lisa Cooper (5th Grade Math; Southern Elementary; 9 yr. veteran) Lisa is a lifelong learner and a leader among her peers. Lisa engages her students through differentiated instruction and due to her high expectations, was awarded “Model Classroom” status by her district. She works with peers, parents and community partners to provide the most effective learning opportunities for her students.

Carrie Skirvin (Kindergarten; Grandview Elementary; 18 yr. veteran) Carrie is a trusted and highly respected teacher by her peers, students and the community. She sets high standards within her classroom and her students rise to the challenge. Carrie serves as a lab host to demonstrate best practices to her colleagues. Her motto is: “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”

Michelle Willoughby (5th grade; Lindeman Elementary; 15 yr. veteran) Michelle makes it a priority to make personal connections with each of her students. She speaks fluent Spanish to communicate with her ELL students. Michelle shows concern for her students in and out of the classroom. She is a member of “Resilient and Ready by Design”. Whether she is collaborating with her colleagues or helping feed 30 families every weekend, Michelle is a true leader within her school and community.

Dawn Klus

Shannon Mann

Kim Setty

Kim Setty (2nd Grade; Mary A. Goetz Elementary; 13 yr. veteran) Kim is a passionate teacher who is well versed in early childhood literacy and math. She sets high expectations and reinforces education with multi-sensory elements such as singing and creating a differentiated learning environment. Kim conducts home visits at the beginning of each school year to better understand her students and their individual needs. She is a member of the River City Project to help assist transient students experience educational success.

Shannon Mann(1st Grade; Crossroads Elementary; 17 yr. veteran) Shannon is a leader within her building, district and community. She is a team leader for her grade level. She also works after school on projects such as Soup with Seuss, Math Science Night and Literacy Night. Shannon utilizes a classroom blog and has her students create and maintain their own blog. She has built positive relationships with parents, colleagues and administration.

Dawn Klus (Kindergarten; Campbell Ridge Elementary) Dawn’s greatest strength is her high expectations for her students. She follows a multi-sensory approach to learning and is able to collaborate with multiple resource staff for small group instruction. Dawn seeks opportunities for professional development and encourages her colleagues to maintain the same high professional standards. She is a true leader within her building and district.

Brittney Riffle

Amy Clancy

Kathy Anderson

Kathy Anderson (Strings Music Teacher; Highlands Middle School; 8 yr. veteran) Kathy implemented and developed a strings program in her district and is recognized as one of the premier sinfonias in the area. She utilizes peer tutors, visiting musicians, college students and fellow educators to enhance her students’ learning development. Kathy has conducted “Pops in the Park” concerts to attract and educate the community about her strings program of which over 150 students participate.

Amy Cody Clancy (8th Grade Writing; Walton-Verona Middle School; 18 yr. veteran) Amy is a master teacher, holds a National Board Certification and is a Fellow with the Hope Street Group. She sets high expectations for her students through independent writing activities and cooperative group work. Amy seeks out opportunities to connect with her students, their parents and the community.

Brittney Riffle (7th Grade Social Studies; Holmes Middle School; 4 yr. veteran) Brittney uses a multi-sensory approach when teaching. She implements the “Flipped Classroom” model where her classroom is entirely student driven and self-paced. Brittany’s students created projects to present at regional and state competitions at NKU and U of L. Brittany’s motto is: “You have to be odd to be number one”.

Ryan Bowman

Deana Cummins

Kristy Collins

Kristen Collins (11th/12th Grade English; Ludlow H.S.; 16 yr. veteran) Kristen has consistently inspired her students to excel in writing. In the area of On Demand Writing her students’ scores dominated among local schools in the area. She has created several activities to supplement the NaviGo curriculum and is a representative on the District Advisory Team. As a graduate of Ludlow herself, Kristen felt it was important to give back to the institution that had been so influential in her own life.

Deana Cummins (9th-12th Grade Math and Aerospace; Williamstown H.S.; 22 yr. veteran) Deana presents lessons that are both creative and academically rigorous. She was a state-level pioneer for standards-based grading. Deana is an Adjunct Professor through NKU’s Grant County Campus which provides dual credit courses for her students. Deana is also a member of her schools’ PBIS Team which provides positive behavioral supports to students.

Ryan Bowman (9th-12th Grade Emotional Behavior Disorder; Randall K. Cooper H.S.; 10 yr veteran) Ryan is a patient yet stern educator. He possesses exemplary communication skills and is able to diffuse difficult situations within his classroom. Ryan encourages his students to think things through and understand what they are feeling. Ryan is an assistant basketball coach and will serve as team leader for the special education department next year.

Jeffrey Haney

Reta Vann

Reta J. Vann (AP Statistics/Pre-Calculus; Simon Kenton H.S.; 24 yr. veteran) Reta is a selfless instructor who not only works with honors students but also with students who have not met benchmark levels. Rita was instrumental in developing the school’s curriculum maps and has been a KTIP mentor teacher on many occasions. Rita started the City of Independence Farmer’s Market as a service learning project. She is best known for her impact due to collaboration with colleagues, parents and community partners.

Jeffrey Haney (9th-12th Grade PLTW Biomedical Sciences/Biology; Holmes H.S.; 6 yr veteran) Jeffrey embodies enthusiasm and a true love of teaching. He uses a hands-on approach within his classroom to help students better grasp the content. Jeffrey is involved in several committees as well as coaching the Holmes High School Academic Team and the Frisbee Golf Team. He has also been a student mentor for several years.

Student Leadership Awards

Brandon Hart
Campbell County High School

Brandon is a senior at Campbell County High School and has served on the Campbell County Youth Service Center Advisory Council since the 7th grade. He also has had an active role with the Campbell County Drug Free Alliance, National Honor Society, Beta Club, Future Business Leaders of America, and the Student Technology Leadership Program. Brandon is an Eagle Scout, has served as a peer mentor for Chrysalis, and plans to be a Chief Information Officer in the future.

Noelle Brooks
Dayton High School

Noelle is a senior of Dayton High School and is the student representative on the Dayton Board of Education. She participated in the Governor’s Scholars Program, and has been actively involved with the Northern Kentucky Youth Advisory Board and Drug Free Clubs of America. Noelle serves as the editor for both the Dayton High School yearbook and newspaper, is co-captain of the Varsity Soccer team, and plans to be a School Superintendent in the future.

Academic All-Star Awards

Donald Adams
Highlands High School

Donnie Adams is a senior at Highlands High School and has a 4.57 GPA. He received a composite score of 36 on the ACT. He is ranked third in his class, and is active in the Student Technology leadership Program, the Programming Club, and the track and cross-country teams. Donnie was a member of the Kentucky All-State Symphony Orchestra and the Kentucky All-State Commonwealth Orchestra. He has taken 12 Advanced Placement courses and two world languages, and plans to be a future Business or Information Technology Leader.

Li Cai Haney
Beechwood High School

Li Cai Haney is a senior at Beechwood High School and has a 4.47 GPA. She received a composite score of 35 on the ACT and is ranked first in her class. She has been a member of the Academic Team for four years, and serves as an aide to the faculty science chair. Li Cai is the only student in Beechwood history to earn a gold medal on all four National Latin Exams and earned the Maureen O’Donnell Oxford Classical Dictionary Award. She has taken ten Advanced Placement courses and plans to be a Biomedical Engineer in the future.

Isabel Harrison
Lloyd Memorial High School

Isabel Harrison is a senior at Lloyd Memorial High School and has an unweighted 4.0 GPA. She received a composite score of 32 on the ACT. Isabel is ranked first in her class, and is active in Student Council and National Honor Society, and keeps statistics for the Boys’ Varsity Basketball team. Through the NKU School-Based Scholars Program, she will have completed six college level courses by high school graduation, in addition to taking Advanced Placement classes. Isabel plans to be an Attorney in the future.

Paige Montfort
Notre Dame Academy

Paige Montfort is a senior at Notre Dame Academy and has a 4.45 GPA. She received a composite score of 35 on the ACT and is ranked first in her class. Paige tutors at the Urban Education Center, plays on the lacrosse team, and has won Scholastic Writing Awards for poetry. She participated in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her original research, and has taken Science Research Honors classes for three years in addition to taking six Advanced Placement courses. Paige plans to be an International Health Policy Maker in the future.

Victoria Nash
Boone County High School

Victoria Nash is a senior at Boone County High School and has a 4.62 GPA. She received a composite score of 33 on the ACT and is ranked first in her class. Victoria is actively involved in the track and cross-country teams, the swim team, and National Honor Society. She has received numerous writing awards, including the Kentucky High School Journalism Award, Scholastic Regional Writing awards, and placed first in the Mark of Excellence contest twice. Victoria has taken three dual enrollment courses in addition to her six Advanced Placement courses, and plans to be an English Teacher in the future.

Chelsea Russell
Simon Kenton High School

Chelsea Russell is a senior at Simon Kenton High School and has a 4.44 GPA. She received a composite score of 36 on her ACT, is a National Merit Finalist, and is ranked second in her class. Chelsea is active in the academic team, the Northern Kentucky Youth Sinfonia, Queen City Productions, and National Honor Society. She has taken ten Advanced Placement courses and plans to be a Business Leader or Theatre Professional in the future.

Career and Technical Education All-Star Award

Stuart Nicholas
Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology

Stuart Nicholas

Stuart Nicholas is a senior at the Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology and has a 4.2 GPA. He received a composite score of 31 on his ACT, and he is taking 5 college courses this year in addition to his medical internship at Children’s Hospital. Stuart is completing the Allied Health Sciences Pathway, and has received the Outstanding Biomedical Sciences Scholar Award for the past two years. He is a member of the academic team National Honor Society, the forensics and debate team, and is a Governor’s Scholar. Stuart is involved with the Covington Youth Commission and serves as a Cappies Critic for school theatrical productions; he plans to be a Biomedical or Mining Engineer in the future.

One to One Literacy Awards

Fay Smith, a One to One volunteer

The One to One program provides opportunities for volunteers to have a relevant role that helps both the student and the teacher. One to One Practicing Reading and Math with Students is a signature program for our region, involving over 350 volunteer coaches who dedicate their time to coach a student in reading and math. Over 3,000 students have been served since the onset of the program. This year, 18 coaches were honored for having been a coach for 8 or more years. Their ongoing dedication to their students and the One to One program is outstanding.

Honorees are:

1. Jennifer Beach – Lindeman
2. Tom Cislo – 6th District
3. Linda Dunn – Williamstown
4. Becky Edwards – Beechgrove
5. Sue Flischel – John G. Carlisle
6. Betsy Glick – Ft. Wright
7. Theresa Goedde – Lindeman
8. Ray Hebert – R.C. Hinsdale
9. Donna Mader – Newport Primary
10. Gayle McClure – Taylor Mill
11. Greg Palmisano – Newport Intermediate
12. Barb Piner – Newport Primary
13. Rachel Reardon – Silvergrove
14. Janet Samples – 6th District
15. Clara “Fay” Smith – Arnett
16. Jeff Smith – Florence
17. Debbie Walter – Beechgrove
18. Doug Williams – Newport Primary
19. Lisa Williams – Taylor Mill

Against all Odds

Alison Alvarado, Dixie Heights High School

Alison Alvarado has been an outstanding scholar at Dixie Heights High School and also with Kenton County Academies of Innovation and Technology, where she was selected for the Biomedical Sciences Academy and has completed three years of her studies.

Alison moved to the United States at a very young age under much duress. Her mother values education and decided to provide an environment in which her daughter could thrive. This required Alison to learn the English language and serve as a translator for family. Alison is also the first member in her family to receive a formal education.

The admirable decision to move to the United States does not come without consequence, forcing Alison to deal with many circumstances that most adults would not dream of. Alison’s family has faced financial hardships requiring her to take on the burden of providing for her family. Enduring jobs such as cook, mulch layer, and warehouse worker, Alison still makes education a priority and remains successful in all endeavors.

Alison is completing the Northern Kentucky University Dual Credit program where she settles for nothing less than an “A”. In addition, she is enrolled in five AP courses along with completing the Biomedical Sciences Academy career pathway. She has earned Academic Athletic All-State, Academic Excellence Award, Gifted and Talented in Mathematics, and earned her Varsity Letter in both Track & Field and Cross Country.

Alison is a member of Student Council, The National Hispanic Honor Society, Latino Affairs Mentoring Program, Northern Kentucky University Student Ambassador, and lastly, Mini Medical College. Alison has volunteered with Cincinnati Walks for Kids, Woodcrest Retirement Home, Haworth Blood Center, Ronald McDonald House Charity, and Lifeline Ministers.

She lives with her mother and sister in a mobile home where money is scarce. She arrives to school to her early morning Biomedical Sciences Senior classes by public transportation and ends her day providing for her family. While most scholars are applying for colleges and universities based on their academic achievements, Alison is researching those that accept scholars who do not exist on paper. She perseveres through every obstacle, and does not take a back seat in regards to achievement. She strives to bring her unique and diverse intellect to every opportunity she encounters.

Her determination to be the first person in her family to not only have a formal K-12 education, but also the first to earn a college degree has led her to be accepted to UCLA and Berea College.

She plans to study a pre-med degree in Mathematics and Applied Sciences.

Stephanie Morris, Dayton High School

Stephanie’s guidance counselor remembers first meeting her: “I first met Stephanie three years ago when I was hired as the new guidance counselor at Dayton High School. While I was busy setting up my office and trying to get adjusted to my new surroundings, I was met with an infectious smile and a warm’“welcome to Dayton.’

Stephanie, only 15 years old at the time, came to school to meet the new counselor. As she was leaving my office that day, she assured me that I was going to love Dayton and that everyone was going to love my southern accent.”

Although Stephanie had recently lost her mother to an overdose and her father was incarcerated, she showed up to school every day with a smile and a desire to make others laugh. Although she was not always sure where she would spend the night, she was careful to make others feel comfortable and safe in her company. She showed up every day yearning for new knowledge.

At the beginning of Stephanie’s junior year, her father showed up on the 6:00 news, again, just a few months after being released from prison. He had been arrested for the second time. This was both heartbreaking and embarrassing for Stephanie. Crying through her pain, she told her counselor about the support she had received from the community. She was so thankful she had a great school, friends and teachers who supported her. But she also wanted to “give back” – she wanted everyone to know that she would be lost without them.

Stephanie was elected by her peers to represent them on the student council. As a student council member, she has helped present new ideas and initiatives to the principal in an effort to foster change, and she has helped plan and organized many of our extracurricular activities.

As a member of the Youth Advocacy board, Stephanie helped to create and fund the John Wooden Scholarship, which will be awarded to a deserving athlete who needs financial assistance to purchase books for college. She is also working with our pre-school director on initiatives to promote early childhood development. She is most dedicated to the Drug Free Club. Stephanie is a strong advocate for drug awareness and plans on staying involved in anti-drug programs in the future.

Stephanie Morris is currently in the top 15% of her senior class and has already been accepted to nine different universities with scholarship offers from three. Her goal is to earn a degree in secondary education and come back to Dayton High School to teach English. She has shared that she wants to come back to DHS and show the same love to future students that was shown to her.

Astro Willoughby, Beechwood High School

Reese Willoughby transferred to Beechwood after having spent a few weeks in the hospital for psychological reasons, most likely depressive symptoms. Arriving at Beechwood High School gave him a fresh start, and everything went well for the first three weeks.

Soon after came suicidal ideations and deepening depression, resulting in three separate stints in hospitals during the spring semester his sophomore year. As much as he tried to be here and as many coping skills we utilized, nothing seemed to work.

After the final stay, he came with his mom and told me he was transitioning and would like to be called “Astro.” With a transfer, at least four hospital stays and a major life change, Astro finished the year with one F, one D and five A’s.

Junior year started off really badly. In fact, Astro spent most of his junior year at home receiving online instruction. By the end of the year, he came into school twice, once for the ACT and once for an AP exam. That ACT turned out to be a 25 Composite with a 31 in English.

Astro came back his senior year and has not been hospitalized once. Here are his first semester grades: Pre-Calculus – 100 A+; AP Studio Art – 100 A+; Biology II – 98 A; English IV – 99 A+; and French II – 100 A+.

Business Engagement Award

BOSCH Automotive Steering was awarded this recognition for being innovative in developing talented employees and growth in the engineering field.

They have participated in the following school events:

* School tours at BOSCH
* School career days
* Classroom presentations
* Navigo: Tours, Presentations and Interview Panel
* Parent Nights with Boone County & Switzerland County
* Junior Achievement
* Teacher Externships
* Robotics League
* Maker Space
* “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing” video contest
* Girls STEM Day and Girls in Manufacturing Day
* Superintendent Information Session and Tour
* Business Judge for School events like Kenton County Academies
* Curriculum input with Gateway Technical and Community College.

The extent of their dedication reaches multiple school systems at every level within the school systems.

Champion for Education Award: Toyota

The criteria for winning the Champion for Education Award is contributing to the Northern Kentucky education community by participating in an ongoing education initiative, advocating for a world-class educational system, or sharing generously of resources, knowledge and skills.

Toyota contributed time, talent and resources to our entire community. From 1996 through 2017 Toyota has contributed $50 million dollars to make our community a better place to live for each of us.

Helen Carroll, Carri Chandler, Dave Fleischer, Casel Burnett and Tanya Herbert accepted the 2017 Champion for Education Award, a small token of our appreciation for all Toyota has done for the community and all of the lives touched.

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