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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Eight Honored With Portrait of a Graduate Global Leader Awards

Andrew Martin, Collin Shadwell and Barry Petracco worked long hours to enhance Moyer's new maker space.

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Eight people from across the Fort Thomas community were honored as Global Leaders at last month’s meeting of the Fort Thomas Independent School Board.

In December, the board initiated the new awards program designed to honor those in the community who exemplify the qualities outlined in the school district’s Portrait of a Graduate initiative. Recipients are recognized for modeling one of the initiative’s five core competencies — global communicator, empathetic collaborator, curious critical thinker, creative problem solver and courageous leader.

Most of those honored in January represented the competencies of empathetic collaborators and creative problem solvers although Superintendent Karen Cheser noted that several had represented several of the competencies.

Nick Smith steps in to create a logo

Nick Smith created the logo for the new Launch student career center.
The board honored Nick Smith for creating a logo for the new space now dubbed "Launch." Cheser explained that with the grand opening coming, there was no money and little time to find an appropriate visual representation of the new space. While she and others were struggling to come up with ideas, Smith stepped in and created a logo.

He worked with Assistant Superintendent Bill Bradford to adjust the design based on the concepts behind the space and was able to provide the new logo in time for the grand opening and publicity for the new space.

Three pooled their resources and expertise to help Moyer

Next, the board honored a group of three individuals who went above and beyond to provide an important finishing touch for the maker space in the newly renovated Moyer school building. Again, faced with no funds and a short time frame, the schools needed special lettering to enhance the walls of the new space in time for the school’s grand opening.

Andrew Martin, Collin Shadwell and Barry Petracco pooled their talents and resources to create the three-dimensional lettering for the space.

Cheser said the trio are honored as creative problem solvers. "Collin used his artistic skills and drew up the letters. And I think Andrew slept by the CNC machine in his basement to watch them being created on his CNC machine. It takes so long for one letter...And Barry on a Saturday afternoon was up on the ladder, painting. That was above and beyond, and so we thank the three of you so much," she said.

Jeremy Smith garners enthusiasm and support for First Lego® League

Proud parent and First Lego® League coach Jeremy Smith presents a check from Belcan to support the program.
Community member, parent of a Johnson school student and Lego enthusiast Jeremy Smith was honored for his support for the Lego® League and robotics teams. For two years now he has asked his employer, Belcan, to make a financial contribution to the teams. This year, he presented a check  from Belcan for $1,000.

Fort Thomas schools boasts 36 teams this year, and it takes funding to support them, explained Cheser, but Smith was honored as much for his enthusiasm as for the financial support.

When asked why he got involved, he said, "Who doesn’t like Legos®? Last year, I saw the email come out and was like, sweet, I can tell my daughter we are going to go join the First Lego® League so I can play. Okay, Molly, we are going to join this. I’ll coach your team."

Yet, his enthusiasm goes well beyond fun with Legos®. He said he has seen first-hand the impact of the program on his daughter and other students. He related a story that he was complemented on his daughter’s knowledge and willingness to explain the program to others.

"I was blown away because she’s very shy. But she’s back there [at an exhibit of robotics] and if she sees someone walk in there, she says, ‘Daddy I gotta go,’ grabs her iPad, runs back she’s enjoying it. I have a preschooler that will be in kindergarten next year and she’s ready to go already. So it’s a great opportunity for these kids...It’s a great program."

Coach Nieporte shares enthusiastic support for students and fans

Athletic Director and Coach Kevin Nieporte was nominated by community members for providing support for student athletes and fans alike.
Coach Kevin Nieporte was nominated by community members for his leadership and caring concern for all student athletes.

Attorney Michelle Snodgrass wrote that she was at state soccer tournament finals and noted that, while Covington Catholic High School was not in the finals, one of the school’s students received an award. No one from the school was there so when the award was announced, Nieporte stepped in to congratulate him and tell him what a great job he’d done even though the student wasn’t from our school or community.

Superintendent Cheser also received an email from community members and grandparents Charleen and Joe Roberts, who noted that at a recent basketball game Coach Nieporte took time to visit with fans before the game and during half time. His presence, encouragement and enthusiasm could be felt with students and fans throughout the game and subsequent celebration, they said.

"I know student behavior is improved when they recognize they are held accountable,” said Charleen Roberts. “And after the game in my photos I realized by coincidence Mr. Nieporte was in every one of them. He was indeed present with students and fans alike. My husband and I’ve always been impressed with the quality of education at Highlands. We feel proud our students are not only educated but enriched by the attention provided by staff."

20 Grand Building Launches Partnership for Students, Business 

Local business leader Dan Gorman receives a Global Leader Award from school board member Lisa Duckworth.
Dan Gorman, a local entrepreneur help the schools realize a dream to provide a career resource center and creative space for students. That dream is now the facility, now known as Launch, located at 20 North Grand Avenue.

Although the school district has been recognized as a leader in the state, Cheser explained that faculty, staff and administrators wanted to enhance and expand their success for students, and so they set out on a mission of discovery last year that took them to award winning school districts across the country.

One group visited Minnetonka schools in Minnesota and schools in nearby Wisconsin where the districts had created programs to enhance career education that included dedicated spaces for this activity.

"We would never replicate what someone else is doing but we would certainly want to find the best of the best and see how we might incorporate those things, tweak them, make them our own,” explained Cheser.

We started thinking how could we do this in the future? ...We had zero money for any kind of buildings. Every single dollar was going to Johnson. So there was no way we could buy anything or renovate anything."

Gorman wanted to help and came up with an idea to renovate a building he owned to accommodate the schools’ needs. Cheser said what transformed seemed almost a miracle. "If you had seen [the building] before you never could have imagined it would turn into what it is right now. It was a 1960s or ‘70s building all chopped up, with dropped ceilings, orange tiles, lots of drywall. I think there were 17 little office spaces on the second floor."

Today, the building provides spacious open spaces designed for student creativity and exploration. "Mr. Gorman listened to us and our dreams and actually made this happen in three and a half to four months. We can’t say enough about how he helped this vision come true for our students."

Educator Zach Deaton teaches students lifetime skills

Highlands High School teacher Zach Deaton gives freshmen the foundation to succeed in high school and beyond.
Another Global Leader Award recipient was teacher Zach Deaton. He was nominated by parent Laurie Sebree who said he went well beyond teaching her freshman the basics of AP geography.

"He taught her critical skills that she can transfer to any subject and use as material gets harder and harder. He taught her how to pull information from her notes and use her time more effectively. And most importantly, he taught her how to take on academic challenges with confidence. If Mr. Deaton ever had any doubts he was in the exact right place for his skill set, I want him to be reassured that he is making a difference in the education of HHS freshmen students," she said.

Congratulations to all the Global Leader Award recipients. The awards are open to anyone in the Fort Thomas schools and the broader community, and nominations are accepted from all community members.

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