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Two Kyffin Elementary School teachers are this year’s recipients of the Golden Schools Foundation’s Teacher Recognition Award.
They are Jennie Clarke, a kindergarten teacher, and Andrea Radcliffe Pless, who teaches the fifth grade.
The Golden Schools Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that serves Golden’s neighborhood articulation schools. It raises and distributes funds to help all Golden students achieve excellence in education. This is the seventh year the foundation has done the Teacher Recognition Award.
Each year, the school communities nominate teachers for the Teacher Recognition Award, and the Golden Schools Foundation selects two for the recognition. Along with a crystal apple to display, teachers receive $1,000 each as additional funds for their classrooms.
“We at the Golden Schools Foundation want to honor and recognize the teachers who continuously work hard,” said Tish Vodicka, head of the Golden Schools Foundation’s Teacher Recognition Award committee, “and show nonstop commitment to education every single day.”
Jennie Clarke loves teaching kindergarten because that’s the grade children learn how to be a student in school, she said.
“They come in as little kids, and within one year, they grow into scholars,” Clarke said. “By the time they finish kindergarten, they can tell time, and read and write.”
Clarke, 42, has lived in Golden for 11 years. She and her husband Ethan are raising two children — Cassidy, 8, and Bryn, 5. She taught kindergarten for six years with Denver Public Schools, and the 2017-18 school year was her first year at Kyffin.
Clarke especially enjoys working with Alyssa Kinghorn and Sarah Graffam — the other two teachers who make up the Kyffin kindergarten team.
“We collaborate and we share,” Clarke said. “We’re a true team.”
Although she is not exactly sure what she will use the $1,000 classroom money for, Clarke said it will be used for some sort of engagement tool.
Clarke loves getting to know each of her students, and thanks her students’ parents for their collaboration, support and partnerships that formed in the past year, she said.
“I love to see the kids get excited about learning,” Clarke said. “Thanks for sharing your amazing kids.”
Andrea Radcliffe Pless
In Andrea Radcliffe Pless’ fifth-grade classroom — the Plessroom — students practice mindfulness, building connections and they read every day.
“The kids are the best part,” Pless said. “Seeing them grow and being a part of their lives for the year. They take a piece of your heart.”
Pless, 44, of Lakewood, has been with Jeffco Public Schools for 21 years. She taught middle school for 19 years and has been teaching fifth grade at Kyffin for two years.
“I’m so grateful to be a Kyffin Cougar,” she said.
Pless and her husband of 12 years, Gabe, have two children — Emory, 11, and Lily, 9.
She has a few ideas for what her $1,000 classroom money will be used for — something to teach the students coding, expanding the animal menagerie or books — but nothing is certain yet, Pless said.
Pless loves continuously working at the craft of teaching and enjoys having a classroom community with her fifth-graders.
“Every kid deserves to feel special and seen,” Pless said. “I try really hard to make sure every student is visible.”
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