Ebru Keremoglu, a Kentlake High School science teacher, is the Kent School District’s Teacher of the Year for 2023-2024. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Ebru Keremoglu, a Kentlake High School science teacher, is the Kent School District’s Teacher of the Year for 2023-2024. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent School District announces employees of the year for 2023-2024

Top teacher, principal, bus driver, coach, paraeducator, custodian and more

The Kent School District recently announced its 12 Employees of the Year for 2023-2024 as chosen by their peers.

The district has 43 schools, 25,530 students, 3,861 staff members and 1,631 teachers, according to March 2023 statistics on the district website.

Following is a summary, provided by the district, of the 12 employees and why they were selected:

Teacher

Ebru Keremoglu

Kentlake High School

A science teacher at Kentlake since 2018, Keremoglu brings a rich international teaching background to her role. With experience teaching in Kyrgyzstan and Africa, she inspires students to excel in science and environmental projects. She emphasizes phenomena-based learning and is currently pursuing a doctorate in education leadership, focusing on supporting ELL students. Beyond teaching, she actively volunteers and advocates for peach initiatives. Fluent in multiple languages, she prioritizes parent communication and fosters a welcoming classroom environment. Her commitment to diversity and global education aligns with the district’s goals, making her a positive role model for students.

Principal

Allyson LaRosa-Flick

Assistant principal

Soos Creek Elementary

She joined the district in 2013 as a fifth-grade teacher before assuming roles in library/tech integration and academic intervention. Recently appointed as assistant principal at Soos Creek Elementary, her leadership and dedication shine through various initiatives. She fosters inclusivity by organizing cultural-themed events in the school hallways and collaborates with the PTA to enhance family involvement through engaging activities like “Read Across America” week and math nights. Her commitment extends beyond academics; she volunteers as an art docent and connects community partners with families for additional support.

Bus driver

Ivan (Peikun) Liu

Since 2007, he has excelled as both a bus driver and driver trainer. He demonstrates individualized care by recognizing and nurturing each student’s unique potential, fostering a belief in their success. He empowers others by sharing his skills and journey, inspiring colleagues to reach their full potential. As a supportive team player, he is always ready to assist fostering a culture of collaboration and success. His commitment extends beyond his daily duties; he actively contributes to the community by serving on the Road-e-o committee, supporting coworkers in their pursuit of excellence.

Non-classroom certificated

Steven Vradenburg

Academic interventionist

Martin Sortun Elementary

His recognition celebrates his unwavering commitment to student success and community at Martin Sortun. From transitioning from teaching fourth grade to his current role as an academic interventionist, he fosters critical thinking, creativity, and global citizenship among students. He is a beacon of positivity and collaboration, inspiring colleagues through innovative teaching practices and dedication to personalized instruction. His leadership strengthens the school community, setting a high standard for educators everywhere.

Central Office administrator

Jennifer Antrobus

Assistant director, Assessment

A valued member of the district since 2007, she initially served as a kindergarten teacher at Ridgewood Elementary before transitioning to Soos Creek from 2008 to 2013. Her dedication led her to become an ELL Instructional Specialist in 2013, where she excelled in supporting students through innovative approaches such as the World Language Credit proficiency test. She assumed the role of assistant director of assessment in 2021. Throughout her nearly two decades with the district, she has consistently gone above and beyond, providing invaluable mentorship and support to her colleagues while prioritizing the needs of students.

Nutrition Services

Tammi Brown

Lead shipper, Central Kitchen

She has been an integral part of the district since 1999, initially joining as a temporary employee before transitioning to a food service helper. After a hiatus from 2005 to 2012, she returned to KSD, eventually assuming roles as an assistant lead shipper in 2013 and progressing to lead shipper by 2015. Throughout her tenure, she has demonstrated exceptional dedication and professionalism in her position as shipping manager at Central Kitchen, consistently exceeding expectations and fostering a positive atmosphere among school kitchen staff.

Coach

Stewart Kunzelman

Head cross country coach

Kentwood High School

A proud KSD alumni, he joined the district in 2021 as assistant track coach and head cross country coach at Kentwood, while also starting as an Inclusive Education (IE) paraeducator. His coaching emphasizes sportsmanship and holistic education, drawing from his psychology background. He initiated Unified sports programs for Kentwood IE students, fostering inclusion and teamwork.

Office professional

Katie Jones

Data processor

Cedar Valley Elementary

She joined the district in 2020 as a data processor (AAII) and since then has made a remarkable impact within a short span. Her dedication to inclusion is evident in her efforts to greet new students in their native languages and teach global respect, sportsmanship, and responsibility during recess. Her creation of a drama program not only fosters teamwork and creativity but also involves the entire school community, with parent volunteers contributing to sets and programs and local members attending performances. She possesses a unique ability to recognize the potential in every student and nurtures it with genuine belief and encouragement, even for the most challenging scholars. Her passion for children, coupled with her growth mindset and professional demeanor, has led her to pursue further education, with plans to become a teacher and join the KSD team in the fall.

Information Technology

James Keele

IT network engineer III

He has been a dedicated member of the district for 25 years. As a network specialist III, he is instrumental in maintaining the district’s networking infrastructure, crucial for students to engage with the digital world. Known for his unwavering support and teamwork, he ensures seamless internet access, supports Tele centers and phone systems for effective communications, and spearheads essential projects like the network cabling initiative.

Paraeducator

Adam Fites

Daniel Elementary School

He has been a valued member of the district since 2021. In his role in the library, he has demonstrated a profound commitment to student well-being and equity. Beyond his basic responsibilities, he actively advocates for students’ needs and equitable practices, using his voice to foster a supportive environment. He has worked tirelessly to cultivate a library space that reflects the diversity of the student body, ensuring access to materials in various languages and formats. His dedication extends to providing individualized support to students, helping them navigate their emotions and find their voice.

Maintenance/Custodial

Mark Moleno

Head custodian

Martin Sortun Elementary

He has been an employee of the district since 2002. Starting as a custodian and later assuming the role of head custodian at Martin Sortun in September 2013, his dedication, and commitment to the school community shine through his actions. Known for his exceptional ability to build relationships with students, he goes above and beyond his custodial duties, engaging with students, assisting them with lunch, and instilling in them the importance of maintaining a clean school environment. His exemplar work ethic extends beyond the district as he mentors others, volunteers for fire watch duties, and consistently offers support to teacher and students alike.

Non-administrative/supervisory

Kathy Morrisson

Career Center specialist

Kentlake High School

A dedicated KSD graduate, she has held numerous roles since joining in 1992, culminating in her current position as Career Center specialist. Known for her emphasis on fostering relationships, she tirelessly supports students’ achievements and promotes inclusivity, particularly for BIPOC and LGBTQ students. Through partnerships with local businesses and schools, she expands students’ career horizons. Her leadership guides Kentlake students toward post-high school success, offering vital support with financial aid and vocational opportunities. As the voice of Kentlake, she ensures community engagement via social media. Her ultimate goal is to empower students for global participation in their post-secondary pursuits.


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