2014-2015 Teacher of the Year

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The 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year is Ms. Holly Kenneally. Kenneally grew up in Sulphur Springs and attended high school there. She went to college for a semester at SFA then transferred to East Texas State, where she received her teaching degree. Here at KHS, she has been teaching for 15 years. She teaches English 2 and is the senior class sponsor.

Black and Gold asked Kenneally some questions about being a teacher.

How does it feel to be named Teacher of the Year?

I am extremely honored being named teacher of the year. I was one among several, amazing teacher of whom I look up to and admire. Every one of the teachers on this campus has one common goal and that is the success of our students. We all work together to ensure that our kids are prepared to take the next step in their lives after graduating from KHS.

What/who inspired you to become a teacher?

I knew at the age of five that I was going to be a teacher. Both of my parents, retired teachers, would bring home grade books, text books, papers, pens, notebooks, and other supplies and I would spend HOURS in my room playing “school”. I would set my animals up on my bed and read to them and scold them when they misbehaved. I was even loud back then.

Why do you enjoy teaching?

It is difficult to pinpoint and say what the ONE thing is that I enjoy most about teaching. For me, teaching is much more than just a job. Its who I am. It is integral part of my being. Strong bonds are formed and continue to grow long after students have graduated. No matter how old my students, my “kids” are, and no matter the fact that they go to college or the workforce and have families of their own, they will alway be that young student in my class, like time stood still. The people I work with become part of my extended family. There are those who have come and go, but they are never forgotten. Teachers spend as much time with their fellow co-workers, if not more, than their own families at home. There are those you confide in as you would in a parent, sister, or a friend. We share good times and bad times. We are a unit. The relationships I’ve formed these past nineteen years and counting are what I would say I enjoy the most.

Why did you choose to teacher English?

I chose to be an English teacher, not because I was a strong student in English, but because of the English teachers who influenced me along the way. I don’t remember the names of all my teachers when I was in school, but I do remember all of my English teachers, the first being my mother. My mom taught high school English and junior high Texas History, and was constantly reading. She took us to the library every week and encouraged my sister and me to read. Like most kids, I didn’t like reading BOOKS, but reading every magazine article and newspaper I could get my hands on, mainly because I’m so nosey and want to know everything going on around me. Later in life, my love of books grew and I always have something on hand to read. My 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Jones, was the one who influenced my love of grammar. We would write pages on pages of comma rules and memorize other grammar rules, and although I couldn’t understand why, I appreciate it now and realize that the “old school” way of teaching grammar is truly the only way to learn it. Mrs. Herman was my junior English teacher and i made and 88 on EVERY, SINGLE ESSAY I ever turned in to her, until my last one. My paper on Simon as a Christ figure for the novel “The Lord of the Flies” finally earned a 90. She made me cry blood and tears to earn my “A”. I have never been more proud of a grade as I was on that day.

Why do you enjoy teaching English?

I enjoy teaching English because of the multiple areas that it covers. English is not just about grammar, reading, or writing. It’s about exploration and making personal connections to the stories we read and the themes discussed. It’s about identifying with others, walking in their shoes, and expressing one’s own story through writing and having a voice. It’s about having an opinion and hearing the opinion of others and discussing viewpoints. There is not one thing in the English subject that people can’t make a connection, whether good or bad. English is a subject that no one forgets.

What do you like to do during your free time?

During my free time, I like to be with my family and friends. My nephew and niece are the WORLD to me. I can’t even express how much I love them. I will look at pictures of them on my phone and kiss their faces on the screen. Family is very important. I come from a very culturally, diverse family. There is no secret between any of us, because none of us can keep our mouths closed. We have many family gatherings throughout the year and celebrate everything together. I also travel throughout the year with my close friends within the the United States and abroad. Although I love to be with my family and friends, I also treasure the days I can be with myself and have time just for me.

What is the best thing about teaching?

The best thing about teaching is simply being with my students. I truly look at them as being my kids. I want them to have the best that life has to offer. I want to encourage them to never settle, to LIVE their lives and to be proud of who they are and what they have accomplished. I want them to know they are worthy. I want them to know what it feels like to be proud of themselves for working hard on something important to them. My favorite quote of all time, and one in which I live by, pretty much sums it up. “LIVE!!! Life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving!” I want my kids to know that there is nothing they can’t become or achieve. No, it won’t be easy, but man, will it ever be worth it!

Use three words to describe yourself.

Loud, dramatic, controlling.

What is your favorite animal and why?

MEOW!!!! My students learn quickly that when I talk about my “boys” that I am referring to Gino and Petie Mac, my cats. Before these who came into my life, I has Sheba and Raja. They were my first cats to ever have on my own. I have grown up with cats my entire life, but Sheba and Raja were the first two who chose me. I lost Sheba to kidney failure and Raja to cancer. They were 10 and 13 at the time. I have never been more heart broken. Not having children, my cats became my babies. People who are pet owners understand where I am coming from. My cats are spoiled rotten and I am what my veterinarian calls a “helicopter parent’. He says that my cats are crazy because I made them that way. Hey, I can’t help it that I love my cats and they love me. There is no one else who can or will love them like I do… EVER.

What does the KHS faculty think of Ms. Kenneally

Mrs. Charlene Warnock, English

“The qualities that make her a great teacher is that she is caring, diligent, and a great rapport with students.”

“I love everything about her! I “heart” her. Ms. Kenneally has a unique way with people. She is giving and respectful; treating everyone as a priority. She keeps it real! She balances a serious task with knowledge and humor.”

Mrs. Patti Fay, Science

“She is a great teacher because she always has the best interest of the student in mind.”

“She manages to inspire the students and express her love of teaching and love for them so that they want to become life-long learners.”

Mr. Cory Smith, English

“An important teaching tactic she used is doing one thing, in particular, that engages students in learning. Plain and simple: she cares. She takes an interest in all of them.”

“Her voice, her laugh, and her character make her unique.”

Dr. Tim Allen, Vice Principal

“She is humorous. Her ability to connect with students and her holistic approach to meeting their needs are qualities that make her a great teacher.”

“It is always an adventure to walk in and see what is going on in her class. She is also very good at finding the interests of her students. Her ability to emphasize a student-centered learning environment and varying individuals, small groups and whole class instruction.”

Dr. Dan Crawford, Principal

“You name it… she can do it.”

“We have a lot of awesome teachers at KHS… and I think she embodies all the best qualities of a teacher.”

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2014-2015 Teacher of the Year