First Lady Laura Bush was in Des Moines today (Thursday) to present a “Star” award to an elementary math teacher. One teacher in each state is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an “American Star of Teaching” for excellence in the classroom. Iowa’s “Star” teacher, 53-year-old Judy Kinley, says math has always been her first love, and she is a coach for all teachers in first through fifth grade.
The award was a surprise. “I’m absolutely overwhelmed,” Kinley says.
“I really didn’t know what this was about until I got in (the assembly) and I saw my family and then I knew because they’ve come from Tennessee and Wisconsin, so I knew it had to be something important.” Kinley hosts “family math nights” to get parents involved in their kid’s math homework. She also incorporates vocabulary in each math class. Kinley says she’s especially interested in helping English language learners. Kinley is “really proud of the children at Lovejoy” because there isn’t a large gap in achievement between the kids who speak English and those who are learning the language.
Mrs. Bush watched one of Kinley’s classes this (Thursday) morning on decimals.
“Thanks in large part to (Mrs.) Kinley’s work, 100 percent of the students in the second, third, fourth and fifth grades at Lovejoy made gains on their math tests,” Mrs. Bush said. “You deserve a round of applause for that.” The students and teachers at Lovejoy Elementary collected school supplies for the kids at the Mississippi elementary school Mrs. Bush is visiting this (Thursday) afternoon, and the First Lady took them with her on her airplane.
“All of us are thinking about the children in Louisiana and Alabama and Mississippi who aren’t in their regular schools because their schools have been hurt, some way, in the hurricane,” Mrs. Bush said. She saluted Des Moines and schools in other states which are taking in students from the hurricane zone.
The U.S. Department of Education has created a section on its website — www.ed.gov — so schools that’ve been hit by the hurricane can put up lists of what they need, and other schools or companies can review the list and make donations. Mrs. Bush spoke for about 10 minutes at a late morning student/teacher assembly in the Lovejoy Elementary gym before posing for pictures with Kinley, the award-winning teacher. “Teaching is a special calling and teachers deserve our admiration and respect,” Mrs. Bush said.