Tag Archives: Klem North Elementary

A shout-out for some great teachers (part 3)

22 Jun

Today I present the third — and final — installment of my teacher shout-out series, highlighting some great teachers and the amazing job they did this year. (Scroll down the page a bit or click here to see Part 1, and here to see Part 2.)

Thank you to everyone who sent in submissions. I’ve gotten some very nice emails from some of the teachers who’ve been recognized, and I can’t put into words how much your comments mean to them. One teacher wrote, “During a very challenging marathon of a school year, your blog … hugged and resuscitated my fatigued heart.”  

She was very kind to say that. But really, it’s YOUR sentiments and YOUR gratitude that are making the difference to these fine educators.

Teaching more than just the ABCs

We would like to recognize a huge asset to WCSD, Teresa Johnston. She was my son’s AMAZING remote kindergarten teacher, and constantly showed her commitment to and for 5 and 6-year old students through her loving nature. She filled the screen to engage students and teach foundational life-long practices that go beyond phonics and adding (though she did this too!). We are forever grateful to her for the big and little lessons that she taught, and hope that she knows what a big impact she has made!

— Jen Liberatore

A “Broadway performance”

Due to medical reasons within our family we made the decision of remote learning for our first grader. To be honest, we went into the start of school not expecting much learning and the first day was filled with tears of regret…. until we met his teacher.

Mrs. Wagner is a once-in-a-lifetime teacher. Her personality absolutely beamed through the screen. She took on one of the hardest positions a teacher could have…remote teaching. She had the kids engaged and excited to learn every day! My son Blake LOVED remote learning! Each day I was in awe of her and how she was able to keep the attention of such a young age group.

He was also receiving the remote support of literacy specialist Mrs. Zieser. I was in awe of how Mrs. Zeiser could not only keep Blake’s attention but had him excited for his extra reading learning time. Our son was thriving beyond our wildest dreams and on the last remote day there were tears of absolute gratitude.

When school changed to full-time we were given the medical clearance to send our first grader to in-person learning. While excited to be back in school, our son was very nervous for his first day. Until he got off the bus and one of his “superheroes” was there to greet him.

Klem North P. E. teacher Mr. Carpenter is also a once-in-a-lifetime teacher. He was standing outside of Blake’s bus as it pulled into Klem North and greeted our son with a loud and excited “HI BLAKE, WELCOME BACK!” He said his fears were gone and Mr. Carpenter even showed him how to get to his new classroom.

I could send you many more stories highlighting not only the teachers but the staff there as well. From the secretaries Mrs. Pixley and Mrs. Cucchiara and Nurse Peters checking on him his first few days, to his new teacher Mrs. Bourchard welcoming him to the in-person learning experience and supporting him on the experience of being in school. I would often ask how he was doing and she would always respond with how “he” as a child was doing, not just the benchmarks of learning.

There were lunch staff members who came over on his first day of school when “his leg couldn’t stop shaking” and made him feel better. Per Blake, “the custodial staff members were always waving and making the kids feel safe vs. scared.”

Klem North is known as Klem North Stars and that’s truly what these teachers and staff members are. I could take up your entire article with the many stories that Blake would come home and tell me about the teachers and staff members creating an environment of fun. Never once did he say that someone looked frustrated or upset. This year was like a Broadway performance and they all deserve a standing ovation because when that curtain went up each day, they stepped into the spotlight with a smile and excitement and that these kids so deserved. We are forever grateful.

— Jaime Richey

P.S. Music class became a family bonding opportunity. Every time Blake’s little brothers heard it was music time they would run to the computer and join along. Sometimes hidden in the background and sometimes full face in the screen. Instead of it feeling stressful and “inappropriate,” Plank North music teacher Sarah Mossey would greet them with a big smile and hello and make them feel welcomed. They listened, they learned and they got to experience some musical magic! 

This last submission, from Penfield, is a long one. But the story is one that many of us have experienced, and it captures the essence of the amazing job our teachers are doing with our kids, and why we are honoring them.

A thanks to Ms. Heinsler from a grateful grandparent

On Monday, my six-year old grandson, Finn, kicked his teacher. On Tuesday, he did it again. On Wednesday, his parents thought it best if he take a break from school so he spent the day with me, his grandfather. Finn is a beautiful boy; bright blue eyes, with long eyelashes a brilliant smile, even if he’s missing a front tooth, and a curiosity that is boundless. He’s very smart, intuitive, and creative. He has a hard time controlling his outbursts of emotion. Finn is a behavioral health needs child. On that Wednesday I asked him, who are the most important people in the world?

“The presidents,” he said.

“No,” I answered.

“The firemen?”

“No, not the firemen, not the policemen, not the doctors or the nurses, the most important people in the world are the teachers.”

Finn said nothing, but I could see he was mulling this over.

“Without teachers, there would be no firemen or policemen or even the president. Everyone of them had teachers.”

Finn has history. He’s been removed from four day cares and two summer camps. He bit around fifty children in three months. At home he could be very difficult. He kicked out the screen on his bedroom window and went out onto the roof. He emptied shampoo bottles and toothpaste for no apparent reason, and stuffed things in the bathroom drain. He’s knocked the thermostat off the wall twice. If you have a special needs child, then I understand the permanent knot in your stomach. I have it too.

Enter Nichole Heinsler, kindergarten teacher, Scribner Road Elementary School. If you are lucky enough to find a teacher like her for your child, you weep with relief. Yes, she is the same one that he’s kicked, but he loves her, and she loves him. She could have given up on him throughout this very difficult pandemic year. (He’s pulled over bookshelves, and stood on his desk, refusing to do any work he didn’t want to.)

She could have said he’s beyond the scope of her ability or willingness. We’ve heard that before. She could have used any excuse at all and no one would have found fault. She didn’t.

Nichole Heinsler’s positive attitude, her professionalism, and her love for her children make her a miracle to our Finn. She sent home daily reports on Finn. They were honest, both the good and bad. She has become an integral part of Finn’s “team.” And now, one school year later, Finn has an excellent grasp of math, and he’s sounding out words. He now plays restaurant with me and on his pad, he sounds out my order. It’s astonishing to me. Yes, he still has special needs and the work will continue, but thanks to Ms. Heinsler he has a good start, and he’s on par with his peers academically. From a boy who had no interest in learning schoolwork, he now tells me about symbols.

“Did you know, Grandpa, that the eagle is a symbol of strength?”

“Yes, I knew that.”

“And the White House is a symbol of the president?”

“Yes,” I said,” I know that too.” I had to turn away so he wouldn’t see the water in my eyes.

Thanks you Ms. Heinsler. May you live forever.

— Grandpa Joe

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A shout-out for some great teachers (part 2)

21 Jun

I’m pleased this morning to present Part 2 of my teacher shout-out series, highlighting some great teachers and the amazing job they did this year. (Scroll down the page a bit or click here to see Part 1.) I’ll post Part 3 — the final installment — tomorrow, so you still have time to get your submissions to me! Email me at missyblog@gmail.com.

(These passages have been edited only slightly for punctuation and grammar. The sentiments are otherwise unfiltered, and straight from the heart.)

I’m going to start with the only submission I got from a high school…


Providing the right tools for success

I would like to highlight Kristen Hubright, Earth Science teacher at Webster Thomas.

Mrs. Hubright spent an immense amount of time preparing take-home interactive lesson plans and recording video lessons that really helped my son, who is in her Integrated Co-Teach class, become more independent in his learning process. In fact, her science units were designed so well that he was able to work on them without any intervention on my part.

As a science educator myself, having varied resources to offer is an important key to turning out well prepared students. Being able to pause when needed to catch up with note taking, and being able to go back to help understanding are fantastic tools to offer to students across all levels, but especially to provide an equitable space for special ed learners.

— Jenny Hryhorenko

(photo courtesy LinkedIn)

Teaching is her passion

My name is Melissa Orr and my daughters (Arya & Teagan) go to State Rd Elementary. I want to Nominate Mrs. Smith (kindergarten teacher).

This is my second year with Mrs. Smith. My oldest daughter also had her and that was the year that I really got to know her and her love and passion for ALL of her students.

When my oldest started kindergarten, she was very shy and just wanted to be in her own bubble. Mrs. Smith quickly got down to her level and showed her how much fun it was to make friends and explore a whole new world. Now this year my youngest daughter has her and I was over the moon excited when she called me to tell me that she had her in her class! This year brought so many obstacles and challenges and I just wanted one thing familiar for her.

I don’t even know where to begin with her. Mrs. Smith has such an outgoing, fun, loving personality and she clicks and bonds with every single student that walks through her door. The way that the students look at her and she looks right back at them is enough to melt your heart. She connects with each student in her own way and makes her students feel like they are the most special in her class.

To this day my daughters come home from school to show me what they made Mrs. Smith! They talk about her all the time. Sometimes I think they think she is their playmate and not their teacher!!! Her way of teaching these little minds and getting down to their levels is absolutely magical. She takes pride in everything she does. She never gives up, never gets frustrated and most of all is always looking for the fun in everything she does and teaches. To hear my kids come home from school to say to us, look what Mrs. Smith taught me, or showed me, made me and my husband the proudest parents we could ever be.

Without Mrs. Smith none of this could be possible. Watching our daughters grow has been one of the best blessings we could ever ask for. This is why in the Orr household, we love and cherish Mrs. Smith!

— Melissa Orr

Jamie Palmer and friend

A great education is a team effort

We have a whole team to nominate and they are all a very important piece to our puzzle!

My daughter remained remote through out this school year and her whole team was absolutely amazing at working to keep the kids engaged and learning! Her team has worked so well with her that she has grown so much academically this year!

We wouldn’t be where we are without her teachers Erika Bellenger, Deena Fairchild, Marissa Echevarria, Jennifer Scalzo, Rachel Dolan, Lisa Freida, Megan Vos, Ms. Palmer and Mrs. Rosenberry. My child really grew to love reading this year and she absolutely beamed when it was time for Ms. Palmer’s March Madness and then the read-alongs. She was even excited when Mrs. Rosenberry would make an appearance on the screen as well!

We are so blessed to have such amazing teachers, therapists and librarians in our district!

— Kelly Clancy

Prepping young minds for kindergarten

I want to give a shout out to Joanna Sero, the UPK teacher at Klem North. She has worked so hard to make this year as normal as possible, and her efforts have definitely been appreciated. She provided regular communication about what’s happening in class, and posted pictures on Seesaw daily, showing us all the awesome things our son was doing with his new friends. She is so loving and supportive, and we really saw growth in our son this year. He is definitely ready for kindergarten, and she has spoiled us for all upcoming teachers.  

— Sandi Brindisi Johnville

Like an extension of the family

Amanda Plato

I wanted to give a huge thank you to Ms. Brayley and Miss Plato at Plank North for making this year so exceptional for our girls.

Miss Plato was the third teacher to step into this second grade classroom. She is and has been so extremely patient, loving, and kind. As a parent who truly values a child’s emotional well being (especially with the year we’ve had), she has brought so much joy into our daughter’s life. Thank you, Miss Plato!

Ms. Brayley provided a classroom environment that felt like a family. Ms. Brayley provided structure, routine, and a sense of normalcy. We are so thankful Ms. Brayley is available to listen (often times during recess) and have conversations with our daughter about life and activities outside of school. Thank you, Ms. Brayley!

We feel so fortunate to have had to amazing teachers for our daughters this year!

-Anonymous

Substitutes are great teachers, too

Julia had Jaime McKnight as her long-term sub for the first part of the year (at Klem North) while her current teacher, Kelly Wojciechowski was out on maternity leave. Both teachers have been absolutely wonderful both in the classroom and communicating with parents on the outside.

— Linda Meyers

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

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At the final bell, a shout-out for some great teachers

20 Jun

I think you’ll agree with me that our teachers are superheroes.

I mean, recall that a year ago March, on a week’s notice, they were asked to finish up the year by going completely online. Then came this school year, and they’ve had to juggle Covid restrictions, remote lessons, and half days or half weeks, all while doing their best to deliver as much learning and critical socialization as possible. And despite all those challenges, they’ve persevered and done an amazing job.

There’s been so much noise and bluster on social media recently about how our teachers have been sliding by. But most of us know the truth. Webster teachers are the best. So I wanted to counter all that noise with some of our own making. That’s why I asked parents to send me stories about some great teachers who have touched their childrens’ lives.

I’m pleased to present the first installment of that list today, and will post a second tomorrow. Feel free to continue to send me your stories (with a photo of the teacher if possible) and I’ll add them to the list!

(By the way, these passages have been edited only slightly for punctuation and grammar. The sentiments are otherwise unfiltered, and straight from the heart.)


Remote teaching excellence

Due to remote learning, I was able to see firsthand how awesome the Klem North music and band teachers are. 

Tiffany Polino has more passion and more energy than any teacher I’ve ever known. Her music classes are engaging, encouraging, and full of student participation. She states her CARE expectations in positive ways, always with a smile on her face. During one fifth grade session she asked the kids to name some topics they were interested in exploring. My son mentioned he was interested in learning how to play the guitar. So, Tiffany dedicated one session a week to the small “guitar cohort.” I was amazed she was willing to put aside her original plans to tailor lessons to student interest. 

Diana Mee eats, breathes, and sleeps her love of band instruments. She makes amazing assignments that go above and beyond the normal “practice your instrument for 20 minutes a day.” She also assigned songs based on student interest. My son learned how to play Disney songs for his little sister and Taps to commemorate Memorial Day.

Diana encourages students to email her with questions and responds to the emails right away. She always speaks positively and sought ways to engage her band students even though they could not play together in person during remote learning. 

Both of these teachers are doing an amazing job at promoting a love of the arts in Webster. 

— Courtney King

A heartfelt mid-year welcome

Barbara Sykut is my twins’ third grade teacher at Plank South! We bought a house here in November and they joined her class in the midst of the year. She was so happy to have them and has been absolutely amazing! She is retiring after this year and we feel so lucky to have had her before she leaves.

Thanks for everything Ms. Sykut!

— Skylar Bethany

Making kids the priority

I have a son who attends fifth grade at State Rd. During the pandemic he was remote. When Webster announced schools would be opening we got word he may have to attend a different school. My son Richy was scared and wanted to stay remote if that was to happen. The principal (Christine Noeth-Abele) said she was trying to get all the kids back and would do her best. She’s awesome.

Then I found out that a teacher was coming back from retirement just to help out. Mrs. Feeley. She is amazing. She came back just for the kids and to make sure they were able to attend their home school. I am so grateful and so is Richy. She has been awesome making sure they get what they need and making sure the extra things they were missing being remote were taken care of. She makes snacks for the kids and is always kind and Richy tells me he wished he had her since day one.

That’s a great teacher to come back from retirement to just help out the kids.

— Nikki Johnson

One classroom, two great teachers

My son Tanner is in kindergarten at Schlegel in Miss Eckert’s class.

Miss Eckert

Miss Eckert and Miss Goodness, the TA, have been absolutely amazing.Tanner has had a hard time adjusting to school and has had a really hard time managing his emotions and understanding what is appropriate at school. Both of these incredible women have gone above and beyond to help Tanner and make his kindergarten experience positive.

All school year, Miss Eckert and Miss Goodness supported Tanner in his journey and tried many different things to help with his behaviors. It takes a very strong, companionate, determined, and patient person to work with these small children and help them learn new routines and manage emotions and just show them how to feel good about themselves and the people around them. We were so lucky to have two of those people this year. They never gave up on Tanner and I am so grateful for them.

— Caira Kinnear

Providing stability during a difficult year

I would like to recognize Brianne Cipura at Klem North who chose to teach a grade level she never taught before in order to loop to first grade with her kindergarteners. By volunteering to stay with these kids, she gave parents peace of mind entering this bizarre school year. Regardless of what choices administration made, we knew her class would be a welcoming and safe place for our kids.

My family is very grateful for her.

— Kelly Prato

Over and above during shutdown

My daughter Gabriella wants to send a shout out to her fourth grade teacher from last year (at Klem South).

Elizabeth Karlof Coene was able to build and sustain relationships with her students that transcended the COVID-19 school closure, and certainly went above and beyond to ensure that my daughter felt that connection before, during, and after the shutdown. She is a treasure!

(The photo is Mrs. Coene with Gabriella at the beginning of fourth grade.)

— JoAnna Joy

Finally, this submission from a student

Mrs. Dupont is the best teacher. She lives near me and she plays with us at school. I like seeing her at soccer. I like that she teaches me everything.

-Raelyn (plank north kindergartener)


Part 2 of my teacher shout-out series will be posted tomorrow. Please continue to send me your submissions (with pictures if possible), and I will keep posting them as long as I get them!

Email me at missyblog@gmail.com

mail me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.

Webster pre-K students celebrate 100 days by giving back

19 Feb

IMG_20190214_141436829

Chris McNamara (left) and Ann Meers help their Schlegel Elementary School UPK kids show off the cans they collected and their can chain.

Celebrating the first 100 days of school is an elementary school tradition. It’s not only a fun way to recognize the fact that the school year is more than half over, but it’s also a good excuse to practice counting to 100 in different ways and with a variety of items.

Two Webster pre-K teachers — Joanna Sero at Klem Rd. North and Chris McNamara at Schlegel Rd. — came up with a unique way to help their young students mark the occasion, while helping the Webster community at the same time.

On Feb. 4 they began a two-week long can drive, encouraging their students in each of their classes to donate 100 cans of dog food, which they would then donate to Joyful Rescues.

In a letter she sent home to parents, Sero explained the project and how it would be incorporated into the curriculum:

In the past few months we have learned about friendship, kindness and generosity, as well as wants and needs. As we prepare to celebrate love and friendship on Valentine’s Day, we are inviting our Pre-K friends to show kindness to pets in need. … Our goal is to collect 100 cans (so we can work on sorting/counting them in groups of ten)! We will also connect this project to our study of environmental print.

As you can imagine, the students enthusiastically embraced the project. At Schlegel, the students made a canned-food chain, marking each new donation with a new link on the chain. At Klem North, Sero’s class created a pet shelter/vet clinic dramatic play center, and read books about rescued animals.

By the end of the two-week donation period, both classes had reached their goal (although I suspect the teachers might have had a hand in that). Last Saturday, Sero and McNamara — accompanied by many of their pre-K friends — took them all to PetSmart in Webster and handed them over to some very grateful representatives from Joyful Rescues.

This was a great project in so many ways. It was a fun way for the kids to practice counting to 100, and it was a terrific lesson in community involvement. But it touched on so many other skills as well.

Case in point: When Sero told her class that the Schlegel students had collected 96 cans to their 81, several of them said “they’re beating us!” But then one little guy noted, “It’s okay because we are collaborating with them, and the dogs get all of the cans!”

Here are some photos from the can delivery:

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