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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Two Johnson Teachers Honored as Global Leaders for Compassion in Their Classrooms

Wynne Philippe and her children honored Johnson teachers Katie Mills (l) and Stephanie Perkins (r) as Global Leaders.

By Robin Gee

Johnson Elementary teachers Stephanie Perkins and Katie Mills were presented Global Leader awards at the Fort Thomas Independent Schools board meeting in December.

The teachers were nominated by Wynne Philippe, a parent of two daughters who attend Johnson. She said she wanted to honor the teachers for their compassion and for celebrating and supporting her children.

First, she honored second grade teacher Perkins who teaches her daughter Anna Grace.

"Mrs. Perkins is the kind of teacher that as a parent you pray your child will get to experience one day," said Philippe. "She's kind. She's compassionate. She's encouraging. According to Anna Grace, she's hilarious. She has always been encouraging to Anna Grace with a growth mindset."

She tells the story of how, when her daughter said she was not a good reader, Perkins pointed out the progress she was making and told her a story about her own reading challenges in first and second grades, assuring Anna Grace, that it takes time but that she, too, will learn to enjoy reading.

"I just saw a weight lift from Anna Grace and a smile come to her face to know that she's going to get there some day," Philippe said.

Anna Grace is from China and was born with a limb difference, Philippe explained. "Mrs. Perkins has always been sensitive to any uniqueness of Anna Grace...and Mrs. Perkins has just always totally embraced that and encouraged that. She's let Anna Grace share about special experiences she's had...She has always helped make Anna Grace be proud of the things that make her different."

Perkins' empathy and encouragement of her daughter has made an important difference in her and her family's life, said Philippe. "Because of Mrs. Perkins, my daughter goes to school every day and knows that she's loved, that she's respected, that she's safe and that she's an important person... we just appreciate [Perkins'] compassion, her empathy and her leadership of our children."

Communication and support make a big difference

Philippe and her children also honored and thanked Kindergarten teacher Mills who teaches younger daughter Elena.

"My sweet Elena has some challenges," explained Philippe. "Life's dealt her some tough cards. She has severe apraxia of speech, and she has a genetic condition that makes her have some other challenges. Mrs. Mills has gone above and beyond this year to educate her in the regular classroom and to keep her with her peers."

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Because Elena is unable to share what she has done in the classroom each day, Mills sends home a daily communication outlining what happened and giving Philippe some ideas on what she might be able work on with Elena.

This daily communication is invaluable, said Philippe. "As a parent of a child who is nonverbal, it's so important to me."

She said she appreciates the extra time and care that Mills and her team member, instructional assistant Laura Grimme, take to keep her informed about Elena's progress. She said she also appreciates the way Mills conveys how Elena is doing, framing her progress positively including both what her daughter is doing well and where there are things she could improve upon.

"In the past, I've had doctors not be so positive about her future, the kinds of things she'll be able to accomplish. What she is doing this year with Mrs Mills and Mrs. Grimme would astound these doctors, would blow them out of the water with what she's able to do. And she's doing so well because she has a compassionate, empathetic and positive teacher who is lovingly and patiently, yet determinedly, pushing Elena to show us what she's capable of," Philippe added.

She noted that "both of these teachers graduates of Fort Thomas schools, testament to the great education that students get here."

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