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West Side Education News & Notes

5/31/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Hensley is APS Teacher of the Year

Darlene Hensley
Photo courtesy of Akron Public Schools
DOWNTOWN AKRON — A math teacher from the Akron Early College High School (AECHS) was named Teacher of the Year for the Akron Public Schools (APS) district May 22.

Darlene Hensley, a 25-year teaching veteran who teaches ninth and 10th-grade students, received the honor this year. She serves as the AECHS Miniature Bridge Building Team coach, co-adviser for the senior class and also helped establish the school’s National Honor Society.

“Teaching is my passion, my mission and my life,” said Hensley, a Wadsworth resident. “My students are and will be my legacy.”

Hensley received her chemistry/mathematics degree in 1974 from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, a master’s degree in polymer science from The University of Akron (UA) in 1992 and her doctorate in analytical chemistry from UA in 1994. Her previous honors include the Teacher of the Year Ambassador Award and the Miniature Bridge Building Team’s Good Sportsmanship Award.

District officials said Hensley feels that once the environment is set in the heart, soul and mind, the fun of learning math begins. She engages her students in her classroom, which she named “Happy MathLand,” where “learning becomes as natural as breathing.”

Hensley was one of eight nominees for the APS Teacher of the Year honor. The other nominees were: Kristen Booth, Sam Salem Community Learning Center (CLC); Julie Buzzi, King Elementary School; Deborah Firtha, Hyre CLC; Susan Hall, National Inventors Hall of Fame School-Center for STEM; Nicole Hassan, Leggett CLC; Grace Tome, Ritzman CLC; and Lynn Waid, North High School.


Collins, Miller named Highland Pride recipients

Linda Collins
Jeff Miller Jr.
Photos courtesy of Highland Local Schools
GRANGER — The Highland Local School District announced that Linda Collins and Jeff Miller Jr. are the recipients of the 2012 Highland Pride Awards.

Granger Elementary School Principal Collins received the award for a district employee while Miller, an active volunteer, is the community award winner. Both will be honored at the Highland Board of Education meeting June 18 at 7 p.m. in the Highland High School (HHS) Media Center, with a reception to follow.

Collins, who is retiring at the end of this school year, has served as principal at Granger Elementary for eight years. She has a total of 37 years of education experience, district officials said.

She said that in her years in the district, students have taught her as much, if not more, than she has taught them.

“That is what I will miss the most — the students,” she said. “They are the reason I became an educator in the first place.”

The person who nominated Collins said she is a gifted administrator who makes students her priority. The nominator also stressed Collins’ care for children with special needs.

Highland officials said Miller, a 1996 HHS graduate, has been an active and productive member of the Highland Athletic Boosters Club for 12 years. He has served as second vice president for the organization and also coordinated the concessions program.

His nominators said overseeing the concessions program requires much responsibility, time and effort. Miller personally orders and picks up all items needed to run the concession stand at Highland stadium and the high school. Miller also opens and closes the stands and helps serve customers as well.

The Highland Pride Award was established in 1984 to recognize individuals who have provided exemplary service to the district. Community members and employees are invited to nominate deserving individuals for the awards. A committee of Highland teachers, administrators, support staff members and parents review the applications and determine the winners, who are presented with a plaque and publicly recognized. The honorees also receive lifetime passes to Highland activities and sporting events, district officials said.

Alumnus gives KSU Museum largest cash gift

Copley native and current West Akron resident Gerald Schweigert has donated $1.1 million to the Kent State University Museum, shown above.
Photo courtesy of Kent State University
KENT — Kent State University (KSU) Museum officials announced that West Akron resident and KSU alumnus Gerald Schweigert has donated to the museum $1.1 million, its largest cash gift ever.

Schweigert’s donation, in the form of a charitable gift annuity, will go toward the preservation and future support of museum collections and activities, officials said.

Schweigert is a Copley native and Copley High School graduate who graduated from KSU in 1955 from the College of Business Administration. He previously contributed to create the Medallion Scholarship for a student in KSU’s School of Fashion Design and Merchandising and also gave a gift to Intercollegiate Athletics.

Over the years his ties to KSU were strengthened through his involvement in the hotel industry and his friendship with Shannon Rodgers, who donated the fashion collections for the museum with Jerry Silverman.

“Shannon left a wonderful gift with his collection, but no endowment fund,” Schweigert said. “I’m just trying to do my part to keep the legacy going.”

“Thanks to Mr. Schweigert’s generous donation, we’ll be able to maintain and expand the programming of the Kent State University Museum for years to come,” said John Crawford, dean of the College of the Arts.

KSU officials said Schweigert was integral when the museum project was coming together in the early 1980s.

“Every Friday night people would come in from New York, like Bob Mackie, Pauline Trigere and Princess Michael of Kent,” Schweigert said. “I became very good friends with many of them.”

Museum officials said the museum began with 4,000 dresses, 1,000 decorative pieces and a 5,000-volume reference library. Today, the museum has about 30,000 dresses and 10,000 decorative pieces. Many of the artifacts are stored in climate-controlled facilities in the area.

RMS student wins rubber band contest

Revere Middle School student Halie Nitzsche’s entry won first place in the National Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors’ arts and leisure category.
Photo courtesy
of The University of Akron
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Revere Middle School seventh-grade student Halie Nitzsche earned first place in the National Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors, according to University of Akron (UA) officials.

The contest, organized by UA’s Akron Global Polymer Academy (AGPA), drew nearly 400 middle-school students’ entries from 17 states.

Halie’s invention of an air freshener tree made mostly of rubber bands is a home accent piece made also of pipe, plaster and newspaper. Air freshening beads are placed in the tree’s trunk and can be replaced as necessary. The entry won in the arts and leisure category.

Students also competed in the science and engineering division, according to UA officials. Other winners hailed from Michigan, Colorado and Utah.

For her win, Halie will receive a $5,000 savings bond, UA officials said.

The contest is also sponsored by UA and the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society, based in Akron.

Highland robotics teams celebrate successful seasons

Shown above is the robot Highland students submitted in the FIRST Robotics Competition National Competition in April.
Photo: Ariel Hakim
GRANGER — In a presentation that has become an annual tradition, Highland High School robotics participants showed the Highland Local Schools Board of Education what their robots can do as they recapped their competition season May 21.

The VEX team, composed of about 21 participants enrolled in robotics classes at the high school, designed, prototyped, built and programmed their robots to place spheres and barrels in goals of varying heights, according to teacher and adviser Gus Matheou.

That group competed at Marion Technical College in Marion in February, where they made it to the final round; and at the Ohio Robotics Educators Regional competition in March at Cuyahoga Community College, where they became the Northeast Ohio Regional Champions for 2012 and qualified for the World Championships.

The World Championships were held in Anaheim, Calif., in April and attended by only seven teams from Ohio, said senior Patrick Sours, who has been a part of the team for the past two years. Sixteen students traveled to that contest to compete against more than 500 other teams, according to Matheou.

The district’s afterschool FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team had about 33 participants this year, said Matheou, many the same as in the VEX group. Fifteen students were able to attend the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) National Competition in St. Louis, Mo., in April, he said.

The FIRST robot is designed to shoot Nerf basketballs into hoops at varying heights as well as balance on bridges. That “game” was released in January, according to Sours, and the team had six weeks to design, build and test their robot for the tasks.

The team competed in the Pittsburgh Regional Competition in early March and made it to the quarter-final round, said Sours.

When they competed at Cleveland State University in the Buckeye Regional Competition later in March, something in the computer station was not working, an error that the competition’s administrators recently admitted was their fault, said Sours.

However, even without a regional win, the team was able to attend the St. Louis competition as a “wild card” entry, where they placed 33rd out of 100 in the Archimedes Division, he added.

Overall, robotics’ students needed to raise more than $12,000 to attend both of the world championships, which they did, said Sours.

The robotics teams are already fundraising for next year, said Sours, and donations are now being accepted. More information on both teams is available on their website at www.highlandrobotics.com.

— By Ariel Hakim

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