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Bennett-Forman, Hemry receive Teacher of the Year awards
POULSBO — Two long-time educators were recognized as “Teacher of the Year” this week.
Linda Hemry, second-grade teacher at Gateway Christian Schools, and Patricia “Pat” Bennett-Forman, learning specialist at Wolfle Elementary, were the two recipients of the award.
The award is given every year to two educators by the Rangveld Kvelstad Teacher of the Year Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit group that supports the leadership of teachers in north Kitsap County. Nominations are submitted by students, parents, teachers and other community members. The award includes a $500 check funded by a permanent endowment created by local contributors. Teachers at any school, public or private, in North Kitsap are eligible.
Having taught in the North Kitsap School District for 31 years, Bennett-Forman has continued to be instrumental at Wolfle Elementary and in the Kingston community.
Bennett-Forman has brought in a number of volunteers to help with school programs, and spent hours of her own time to better the school community. “You talk about people giving 110 percent, she gives 150 percent,” Wolfle Principal Ben Degnin said.
Bennett-Forman is retiring. As a learning specialist, she was responsible for assessing new students and getting them into the right classes and programs. She helped administrators make informed decisions based on data, and helped the staff move forward and improve as a whole, Degnin said.
As the president of the Greater Kingston Kiwanis Club, Bennett-Forman was the connection between the school and the community, Degnin said.
She also works closely with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, and organizes family reading nights once a month, Degnin said.
She began teaching in Chicago 43 years ago. During her time in North Kitsap, she’s taken on many roles. She joined the staff at Wolfle 13 years ago.
Though she can have her “silly” moments, such as dressing up as a clown, Bennett-Forman is also “very organized,” Degnin said. She is comfortable around students.
Having worked with Bennett-Forman for nine years, Degnin does not want her to leave. She creates a balance for the principal and brings different ideas and strengths to the table, he said. When the two sit down and have a conversation — agree or disagree — it is productive, Degnin said.
Bennett-Forman has also dedicated time to preserving the nature trail at Wolfle. The trail, which teachers use as part of their science curriculum, is now wheelchair accessible and the pond has been restored. The pond was dedicated to Bennett-Forman.
Bennett-Forman and 19 other retirees were honored during the June 13 school board meeting. A breakfast was planned for Thursday morning as well, with a celebration after the board meeting.
Degnin said the person who takes over for Bennett-Forman will have a tough act to follow.
“A lot of people don’t necessarily want to take her job, because those are big shoes to fill,” Degnin said.
Walk into Linda Hemry’s second-grade class and you may find her class building an igloo out of milk cartons. Perhaps her students will be dressed as their favorite authors. Or, she may be serving them banana splits while dressed as an ape.
“She’s a warm, fun person with a lot of talents,” Gateway Principal Judy Green said. “Well deserving of being recognized …” Nominated by the parents of her class, Hemry builds strong relationships with families and children, Green said.
Hemry has more than 20 years of teaching experience, three years with Gateway. Before Gateway, Hemry worked at Crosspoint Academy.
With high expectations of her students, Hemry is able to incorporate music and drama, for example, into her lessons, Green said. Her class did build an igloo out of milk cartons, which students practiced measuring skills to build, and then read inside, Green said.
“You could probably choose any one of our teachers [for the award],” Green said.
“[Hemry] has experience,” she added.
Speaking on behalf of all the parents of Hemry’s second-grade class, Tamara Dykstra wrote to the Herald that Hemry has a “passion and gift for teaching.”
Hemry does not seek attention for what she does, Dykstra wrote, she teachers because she wants her students to excel and “reach their full potential academically, socially, and spiritually …”
Hemry brings guest speakers to the classroom to enrich the curriculum, and provides hands-on learning.
“She is steadfast, dedicated, and passionate about her teaching,” Dykstra wrote. “It has been a privilege for my son to have thrived in her classroom, and it is a privilege to see her honored this way.”