In a surprise video meeting drop-in morning of Friday, May 1 Penn-Harris-Madison Superintendent Dr. Jerry Thacker named the District’s 2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year … Jessie Kinney, Technology Curriculum Integration Coach for P-H-M elementary schools.
Click to watch the video below to see Jessie’s reaction when Dr. Thacker and other P-H-M Administrators dropped in on her Google Video Hangout Meeting with a colleague …
Jessie Kinney has 13 years’ experience as an educator starting her career as a reading specialist with Portage Township School District. She joined P-H-M in 2009 as a traveling Physical Education teacher serving Prairie Vista, Horizon, and Walt Disney elementary schools; she also served as an Assistant Volleyball coach at Penn High School. Jessie moved to Elsie Rogers Elementary School as a 5th grade teacher in the fall of 2010 and taught 4th grade for the next six years there. In 2017, Jessie moved into the role of Elementary Title I Technology Integration Coach for the district. In this teacher on assignment position, Jessie regularly supports more than 200 elementary teachers in the successful integration of instructional technology with the goal to increase student engagement and improve student learning outcomes. Now in her 11th year with P-H-M, Jessie is currently based at Moran Elementary School.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that shutdown schools, Jessie traveled between P-H-M’s elementary schools working with students in small group settings on hands-on projects like coding miniature robots. But more directly, she helps students by teaching their teachers! She assists educators with ways to incorporate STEM into all facets of their curriculum.
While providing supports to all P-H-M elementary teachers spread out over 11 buildings, Jessie has a targeted focus of supporting P-H-M’s five Title I schools. Most recently, she put her passion and knowhow for technology to work by supporting Elm Road Elementary’s application to become an IDOE STEM certified school. While the outcome of the IDOE certification process is not yet known, Jessie’s contributions to help Elm Road land this designation are appreciated by her fellow teachers … “She has made a difference in every student's life by investing energy in training, encouraging, and motivating the Elm Road team of teachers to be their best for students who need to be college and career-ready in a new era,” said Elm Road teacher Heidi Tornquist, who nominated Jessie for P-H-M Elementary Teacher of the Year.
When COVID-19 abruptly shut down our schools, Jessie shifted gears quickly to help support and collaborate with teachers as a tech resource on how to keep their students engaged during this period of extended eLearning. She sends weekly “Tech Tips” on new educational tools that teachers can use in their virtual classrooms.
“By embracing technology and being open to the change,” says Jessie, “we have learned that relationships are stronger and can come in many different formats. My message to my fellow teachers would be to remember sometimes all you need to overcome your limits is a little encouragement and the ability to jump in and build your wings on the way down. The last few months have taught us to be flexible, embrace the unknown, and that technology can be used as a tool to enhance relationships and the learning environment. Embrace the technology and be open to the change, and with a little bit of grace we will be able to create a new and possibly even better new-normal within our classroom.”
Jessie along with P-H-M’s Secondary Teacher of the Year, Penn High School’s Amy Zimmer, will be considered for the honor of the Indiana Teacher of the Year. Both P-H-M Teachers of the Year will receive a $500 classroom grant from P-H-M’s Education Foundation.