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School board highlights good deeds, departing members

Posted: June 4, 2013 - 8:32pm  |  Updated: June 5, 2013 - 8:41am

Volunteers make a world of difference to both students and teachers.

Steve Carter, a beloved grandfather-figure for Nikiski North Star kindergartners, received the Golden Apple award Monday at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting.

The KPBSD Golden Apple Award is presented to those who go to extra lengths to support and advance education.

NNS teacher Michelle Burnett, who was in attendance at the school board meeting, nominated Carter for the award because of his service to her class and students.

KPBSD president, Joe Arness, presented the award and read the nomination letter aloud to the board and attendees.

Carter began volunteering for Burnett’s class three years ago when his granddaughter was in her class.

“He was dedicated to my students and their success with learning to read. While working with my students he recognized some students needed more one on one reading time and always found a way to spend more time to help those students. Even if that meant he would need to stay longer than his two hours for that day. Mr. Steve would play ABC games, listen to students read and read to them as well,” the letter read.

Even after his granddaughter had moved to another school, the letter explained that Carter still walked to the school, twice a week in various weather situations, to volunteer.

“This is my third year working with Mr. Steve even though his grandchildren do not attend our school or school district. He has been and continues to be such a blessing to each of the children that he works with in my classroom. He knows the expectations of kindergartners and how to be a positive part of their education,” the letter read.

While Carter spent his time giving to students in the borough, the KPBSD also played a role in enriching the lives of others.

The KPBSD board heard a presentation from retired educator, Dr. Sylvia Reynolds on the Liberian Book project.

Reynolds and Trudy Petersen recently traveled to Liberia, a west-African country bordered by Sierra Leone and Guinea, with a population of 3.7 million people.

Both ladies, with the help of many other community members, helped deliver several containers of donated KPBSD curriculum that would no longer be used in the district, to the Liberian people.

“This started with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. I want to thank the school district for the privilege that I had working with the many quality educators and professionals and some of you are present here tonight,” Reynolds said. “I can honestly say that out of my four trips to Africa, teaching and doing teacher training, this last one was off the charts, and nothing has ever nourished my soul as much as this last trip.”

As she spoke, a slide show played on the overhead screen. The students, many in their 30s to 60s, had eager smiles, ready to learn and accept the kindness of strangers across the world.

Reynolds said the Liberian literacy rate is 60.8 percent.

“By being involved in this book project, we became involved in something bigger than the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District,” she said.

Reynolds explained that the students did not have chalkboards or desks, and the learning was generally rote memorization.

She presented a wooden plaque and thank you letters to the school board members sent by the Liberian students.

“The joy, the gratitude and the blessings from delivering these books, and training the teachers, cannot be put into words,” she said.

The board ended the meeting with the announcement of the departure of Tim Petersen, director of Human Resources, who retired after 33 years of service to the KPBSD and Seward student representative, Hayden Beard.

While board members said their farewells to the student representative, Beard explained that his time on the school board was truly an eye-opening experience.

“It is really amazing to see how school works on the other side,” Beard said.

Sara J. Hardan can be reached at sara.hardan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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