Three teachers at Kennedy Community School received awards for doing what they love – teaching students. The honor, which came from Resource Training and Solutions of St. Cloud, recognizes those who excel in academic leadership.
Teachers Pat Forte and Cheryl Novacinski received Leadership in Educational Excellence Awards last month. Paraprofessional Judy Theisen was named Support Staff of the Year. All said they are humbled by the acknowledgment.
Novacinski has taught first grade for 26 years. The St. Joseph resident even had her own children in class at one point. She’s never strayed from first grade because it is here she sees so much of a child’s development, she said. Seeing a student walk into her classroom and start at a beginner’s reading level and walk out reading a chapter book is what makes her job worthwhile.
“It’s just wonderful to see the growth,” Novacinski said. “It’s a lot of work but I’m doing what I love.”
She also works hard to stay connected to her students after they advance. For several years, she has tracked down students once they graduate from high school to send them a grad card with their first-grade picture enclosed. She wants them to know she still cares after they’re gone. While she doesn’t seek recognition, she is appreciative of the award.
Forte, a math and science teacher, has been a teacher for 24 years. Nine of those years were at Kennedy where he teaches sixth grade. In that time, he has zeroed in on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores and tutors students to help them improve, Moeller said.
“I was surprised,” Forte said of the award. “We have such a talented staff here it could go to anyone. I’m very humbled by it.”
Forte said teaching is really a team sport, and so he is grateful for the team of teachers he works with. They call themselves Team 6 since they teach sixth grade. The team is a familiar concept for Forte since the Sartell resident is an assistant hockey coach at St. John’s University.
Principal Diane Moeller said she couldn’t be prouder of her staff. A committee made up of previous award recipients selects new recipients for the year. A total of 17 awards have gone to Kennedy, Moeller said.
“Both of them really strive to individualize the work they do with the kids to make sure they’re successful,” Moeller said. “They are very deserving.”
Moeller explained the award highlights staff who are leaders not only in the building but in the district. They essentially go that extra mile, she said.
Paraprofessional Judy Theisen was named Support Staff of the Year by Resource Training and Solutions. Her supervisor, Laurel Schoborg, was not at all surprised by the recognition.
“She is well deserving,” Schoborg said. “She’s phenomenal.”
Theisen is grateful for the support she gets from staff at Kennedy. This is what makes her job easier. She has worked in the St. Cloud School District for 17 years with 14 of those being at Kennedy. She has worked in special education for six years and likes being able to help with whatever needs to be done from day to day.
“I love kids,” Theisen said. “I’m there for support. This was such an honor.”