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Fantastic 49 Honorees Show Passion for Giving Back
If a D49 student needed something fun to do during summer break, all they had to do was ask someone in, of all departments, nutrition services. Michelle Suggs and Sophie Bettendorf made that part of their commitment to the D49 summer meal program, which also made them Fantastic 49 honorees for October. As the board of education learned Oct. 11, each honoree fit into a theme of giving back to the D49 community. Four staff members and one student were thanked for helping make District 49 a better place.
Suggs and Bettendorf were recognized for creating a special experience for students attending the summer meal program. Along with serving breakfast and lunch during June and July, Suggs and Bettendorf also fed the minds of young learners with gifts of gently-used books.
In addition, they organized a list of free and low-cost summer entertainment options for families. “What you did last summer continued to build relationships with kids and will help them stay connected at school,” said Marie La Vere-Wright, BOE president. “Thank you for seeing the whole human being.”
Katherine Nunn, library staff member at Odyssey Elementary School, was honored for her passion around family engagement to inspire reading. Kim Brown, Title I family engagement teacher on special assignment, nominated Nunn. “Katherine goes above and beyond. We are lucky as a district and at Odyssey to have her,” remarked Brown. Nunn plays a significant role in community reading events at her school and has spent time participating in family engagement activities at the state level.
Instructional Coach Carolyn Merritt was recognized for her contributions to math achievement in D49 and for helping teachers build their confidence around math. “Carolyn is the most passionate person about math I know,” commented Kathleen Granaas, coordinator of academic performance. “Her work is significant to the district, schools in the Sand Creek Zone and to me personally. Carolyn taught my own two sons.”
Merritt, who was first a teacher in D49, was grateful for the opportunities with her current position. “I thank the district for growing me as a leader, educator and professional,” she shared.
The final honoree of the evening was Sand Creek High School student, Logan Nestelroad. He was recognized for constructing eighth-grade band lockers for Horizon Middle School, where he was previously a student. Nestelroad selected the project to help him in his pursuit of the rank of Eagle Scout, and organized the project from start to finish, including fundraising for the materials.
“One of the best parts about teaching is developing connections with students,” commented Melanie Hawthorne, band director at HMS. “When a student comes back and wants to give back, this is the most humbling experience.”
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