Wheeling teacher wins national innovation contest

  • Becky Kinnee, the teaching and learning facilitator at Wheeling High School, won first place in a national contest for her efforts to connect with students during the height of the pandemic.

    Becky Kinnee, the teaching and learning facilitator at Wheeling High School, won first place in a national contest for her efforts to connect with students during the height of the pandemic. Courtesy of District 214

 
 
Updated 9/14/2021 11:18 AM

Becky Kinnee, the teaching and learning facilitator at Wheeling High School, won first prize in the national Teach Plus Project SPARK Innovation Contest. This award is given to educators who reinvented education during the pandemic.

In order to continue to connect with students during the pandemic, Kinnee developed a Tutoring in the Park Program. Every Saturday for 15 weeks, she led a team of staff and student tutors to help students with homework, organization and completion of graduation requirements in a community park. They also provided free enrichment experiences like art and music lessons.

 

Over the weeks, Kinnee's program evolved to help the entire community. Younger students were able to gain support. Parents were able to fill out applications for free internet and learned to navigate things like open house and parent teacher conferences. On top of that, Kinnee and her team also provided food, drinks and school supplies to support the community and kids.

"I am just so proud of our Wheeling High School staff, because this was truly a team effort. We saw a need, we made a plan, we left the comfort of our school and we served our community with love and care, all the while navigating the difficulties of the pandemic," Kinnee said.

"There were so many people who showed up each week to do the work, and I am just thankful to be on a team who cares about our kids as much as I do."

Finalists of the Teach Plus SPARK Innovation Contest were judged by an expert panel that included award-winning teachers and principals and senior staff of the Illinois Board of Education.

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