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Lesson plans: National honor society now at King-Murphy

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Recognizing student achievement at the elementary school level usually takes the form of certificates or an awards ceremony.

At King-Murphy Elementary School, rewarding student achievement has a new form: membership in the National Elementary Honor Society at the school.

Forty-three fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders were inducted April 8 into King-Murphy’s School in the Sky chapter. The chapter received its charter from the national organization on Oct. 15, 2009.

The induction ceremony reminds students of their commitment to themselves, their school and their community. They lit candles and signed a scroll signifying their initiation into the chapter.

“So many elementary kids don’t get recognized for all their hard work,” said Heidi Lupinacci, sixth-grade teacher and adviser to the group. “NEHS allows us to honor them for academic achievement.”

The National Elementary Honor Society is an organization formed in 2008, joining similar organizations at middle schools and high schools. The organizations at all levels reward four areas: academic excellence, leadership, responsibility and service, according to their websites.

Eligibility for the School in the Sky chapter includes a 3.5 grade point average, which is higher than the national standard of 3.0. Students also write essays explaining their commitment to the four areas.

Sixth-grader Andrew Milligan said he was excited to be in the chapter.

“It’s one of the biggest honors ever,” Milligan said. “It will look good on your permanent record, and it will help you get into college or get a job.”

He said his five-paragraph essay that was part of his application to the chapter explained how he was responsible at home, at school and in the community. He said he walks his dog every day, tries to do his best at school and volunteers once a month at the Dumb Friends League in Denver.

Next for the chapter is a meeting to elect officers and to plan service projects, Lupinacci said. She wants the members to do an end-of-the-year project.

“We’re going to start small,” Lupinacci said. “I’d like them to do something that goes along with Earth Day such as cleaning up the school grounds. We will start small because if we act locally, we can think globally, too.”

Teachers of the Year

Evergreen-area schools have named their Teachers of the Tear, and they were honored by the Evergreen Kiwanis at a luncheon in March.

The Evergreen Kiwanis has been honoring area teachers for many years. The Kiwanis motto is, “to serve children of the world,” and teachers are an integral part.

This year’s honorees are:

• Dawn Odean, Parmalee Elementary’s instructional coach. “She is just an outstanding addition to our staff,” said principal Ingrid Mielke. “Dawn has embodied all of the aspects of the instructional coach position. She provides direct support to my entire staff, and she has helped to reform literacy instruction and intervention practices at Parmalee.”

• Rose Bergman, a second-grade teacher at Marshdale Elementary. She has been teaching at Marshdale for five years.

• Gayle Joyner, a third-grade teacher at Bergen Valley Elementary. Joyner has worked for 19 years in Jefferson County as a classroom teacher. She is retiring in June.

• Anne Keen, occupational therapist at Bergen Meadow and Bergen Valley. Keen has worked in Jefferson County for the past 25 years as the occupational therapist.

• Kristi James, a first-grade teacher at Wilmot Elementary.

• Mary Thomas, a sixth-grade language arts and reading arts teacher at Evergreen Middle School.

• Melissa Berninzoni, a math teacher at Evergreen High School. “With no doubt, I can say that Mrs. Berninzoni is one of the most committed, innovative, effective and collaborative educational professionals that I have ever worked with,” said principal Matt Walsh. “One can visit her classroom any day and observe it in her communication, interaction, and truly authentic character.”

Summer camp opens for dyslexic kids

A camp for children ages 7 to 13 with dyslexia is being started this summer at St. Anne's On-the-Hill Outdoor Education facility in Indian Hills.

Called Rocky Mountain Camp for Dyslexic Kids, it will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday June 28 to July 31.

Joyce Bilgrave, the camp director, also operates a camp for dyslexic children in Durango.

Students get a lot of one-on-one reading help for half the day with the remaining time spent at organized outdoor activities.

She said the special attention needed to help children with dyslexia read better is important to their success in school and in life. If dyslexia is caught early, children can learn to read at the same level as their peers.

Despite the tough economy, the $4,500 cost for the camp has not seemed to deter parents from getting their children the additional reading help, Bilgrave said.

“Enrollment (at the Durango camp) is not down,” Bilgrave said. “Unless (dyslexic kids) have the opportunity to learn the necessary skills, they will be in for a hard time.”

Dyslexia is genetically transmitted, and many people with dyslexia are considered highly intelligent and entrepreneurial such as Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison.

“Kids with dyslexia are smart,” she said. “All you have to do is teach them to read.”

For more information about the camp, visit www.rockymountaindyslexiacamp.com or call 970-385-7713.

Young Writers Conference

Young Evergreen writers will share the books they’ve written and learn more about writing at the annual Young Writer’s Conference.

The conference, which is for students in kindergarten through sixth grade and their parents, is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at Evergreen County Day School.

Mark Ludy, an author and illustrator of children’s books from Windsor, Colo., will be the guest speaker. Plus there will be parent workshops. Hearthfire Books will host a book fair.

About 300 children from Evergreen Country Day School, Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen, and Bergen Valley, Bergen Meadow, Parmalee, Marshdale and Wilmot elementary schools are expected at the conference, according to Michelle O’Laughlin, event organizer and third-grade teacher at Wilmot Elementary School.

For more information, contact O’Laughlin at 303-982-5370.

Have tips about schools in Evergreen? Contact Evergreen resident Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1041.