KWC and Highland Pursue Success Together
Kentucky Wesleyan graduates who work at Highland Elementary School.
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Highland Elementary School in Owensboro is a national blue-ribbon school. Students generally are near the top of the district in performances on mandated testing and teachers are encouraged to develop innovative academic and extra-curricular programs. In short, it’s a great place to be a student.
One secret to their success is another institution of learning – Kentucky Wesleyan College. For years, the two schools have maintained a connection, and Highland now employs 15 teachers and staff members who are graduates of Kentucky Wesleyan. A rotating cast of college students does their student teaching at the school, and KWC Chaplain and Director of Church Relations Kent Lewis ‘98 is a parent representative on the school’s site-based council.
Principal Anita Newman '71 (a recipient of the KWC Alumni Achievement Award in 2008) is impressed with the talent and expertise of the KWC graduates she hires. "They’re very innovative," she said. "They’ve made a difference."
For their part, KWC students get to learn from the best. "(Highland's) teachers are very helpful, they model best practices in the classroom,” said Martha O'Bryan, the chair of KWC’s teacher education department. "Their teachers are very positive role models and mentors."
Gina Dailey '98, is now Highland's media specialist. She started a Lunch Bunch book club that takes place during lunchtime and has implemented document cameras and other technology for the kids to use. "It's so rewarding to see kids get excited about reading," she says. "KWC prepared me in many ways. They gave me a good basis … I’m still using those skills today."
Students Turned Colleagues
Highland puts on an annual Renaissance Fair that the whole school participates in – the school is transformed into a castle as the younger students decorate hallways and classes learn different dances to perform. Connie Harper '83, a physical education teacher in her 24th year at Highland, directs the dance portion that kids so often remember years later. One year, they even brought the fair to Kentucky Wesleyan to perform with KWC's Madrigal Singers on campus.
Harper also teaches at her alma mater as an adjunct professor in the education program. Her classes include methods and activities as well as adaptive physical education. Now in her 12th year at KWC, "I really enjoy … working with the young adults and seeing them grow," she said. Some of her college students come to her classes at Highland to teach – a natural connection for them and a great introduction to the real world. The street goes both ways too; "I learn from them," she said.
Three teachers now at Highland even had Harper for a professor at KWC. "They were
students - now they’re colleagues," she said.
On the Council
Kent Lewis ran for Highland's site-based council in order to be a part of his daughter's education (his two younger sons will eventually follow). "We've been pleased since day one," he said. "Hannah is getting a world-class education. It makes me feel better because I know the kind of education KWC provides students. I know if Hannah were to have a Wesleyan grad as a teacher … that teacher has been trained very well."
"I hope Highland continues … to choose KWC graduates," he said. "It's a great partnership."
On the web:
- Kentucky Wesleyan Education Department
- Highland Elementary School