2021 Townie Teachers of the Year
RMS’s Kenahan is District Honoree
The East Providence School Department has announced their choices for 2021 building and district “teachers of the year.” In a ceremony held at East Providence High School, Riverside Middle School’s math department coordinator, Katie Kenahan, was named the district “Teacher of the Year.” In nominating Kenahan, RMS Principal Robert Perry said “Katie is a leader among her peers, and she is among the most dedicated and productive members of the Riverside Middle School faculty. As the Math department coordinator, she has guided her colleagues as they sought to increase the proficiency of all students in math. In this capacity, she has also served as a member of the RMS Leadership Team, which guides programming and curricular needs. Katie also serves as the secretary of the RMS School Improvement Team, a position that plays a vital role in the success of the group.” After school hours, Kenahan is active with city students as a coach. She is currently the RMS girls’ basketball coach and after leading the school softball team she is now the head softball coach for East Providence high school. “Her teams have been successful year-after-year, and she has forged strong relationships with the student-athletes and parents of her teams. Without question, her teams both adore and respect her. This is because Katie attends to the emotional and athletic growth of her kids, but she is also a fierce competitor. She recognizes the importance of athletics to the social and academic growth of her student-athletes,” said Principal Perry.
Additionally, Kenahan has organized the “Senior Walk”, which is an event during which dozens of EPHS seniors come to Riverside and Martin Middle Schools and engage with students and their former teachers in their full graduation regalia. “It is a touching event for students and teachers and allows us all to experience and enjoy the culmination of our efforts with our kids, EPHS graduation. To see our farmer students, now confident and composed young adults, looking sharp and happy, and in the prime of their lives, is a highlight for many educators at RMS. Katie makes this happen,” added Perry. Over the past five years, she has also organized a yearly event during the Holidays at Waterview Villa, a local assisted living facility. Students and staff members collect and wrap presents for weeks prior, and on the day of the event, arrive with Christmas gifts and the gift of company for the residents. It is a remarkable event for students and residents alike, and it has become a popular tradition for Waterview Villa.
Perry and Kenahan’s colleagues point to her importance in the classroom. “She inspires the students who sit in her math classes each day.” This sentiment was shared by one of her students named Kloey. “I think Mrs. Kenahan is the best candidate to represent our school as Teacher of the Year. I believe this because she really makes students want to come to her class. I know that I have always disliked math class. But, she makes me want to learn. Mrs. Kenahan makes it fun. She also includes everyone so the same students aren't answering the questions. I am in her honors math class so we get a lot of work. I am not gonna lie. it is difficult. But with her help and support, I thrive in her class. So because of her thoughtfulness and commitment to teaching and making relationships with students. I think that she would be the best candidate to represent our school as Teacher of the Year.”
“I am so humbled and very grateful for the recognition,” Kenahan told the Reporter. “Everything we do at this level is a team effort, and I am really lucky to work with such amazing people at Riverside and for such a great set of administrators that give us all the flexibility and freedom to use our professional judgment to do what we feel is best for our students. It has been so wonderful getting to grow as an educator here in EP and give back to the community, and I am just very grateful,” added Kenahan.
The other school-based teacher of the year recipients are as follows:
Kayla Creighton. Kayla was described by colleagues as dedicated, enthusiastic, caring, and knowledgeable. Kayla’s passion for teaching is evident in everything she does. Kayla has a positive attitude and is always willing to try something new and lend a helping hand! She is organized, positive, reliable and a great team player. Mrs. Crieghton contributes school spirit, meaningful connections and professional expertise to our team.”
Elizabeth Macnie. Macnie is a teacher of extraordinary talent and dedication. She sets high standards for her students and provides them with the tools they need to succeed. She works tirelessly on her students’ behalf, advocating for them and providing individuals with attention and academic support. Beyond this, Liz attends to their personal needs. She created a self-care corner and flexible seating in her room long before it was trending. It was just what she intuitively knew children needed. Students are motivated and intellectually stimulated in her classroom and her successful teaching techniques are reflected in how well many of her students are prepared for the next grade. She is an energetic and inspirational educator.
Gail Ramos. An Early Childhood Special Educator who serves the developmental needs of East Providence children ages 3, 4 and 5. She has been a teacher in the East Providence School District for 32 years and holds a Masters of Arts in Education and Human Development. There is much good to say of Gail! She is a passionate, dedicated, loyal and kind person. She embodies the true qualities of an exceptional educator. Gail values each of her colleagues, respects all students and communicates in an exemplary manner with parents. Many years after moving on from pre-k, parents will ask about Mrs. Ramos, and request that best of regards be sent to her.
Cindi Norton. Cindi has been described as respecting all students and inspiring them to learn, contributing her professional expertise, developing positive relationships with colleagues, and taking on positions of leadership within the school. Cindi is very kind, nurturing, compassionate, patient, flexible and supportive. Her life has not been without challenges. Her faith, compassion and love for others, and grace have never faltered. As a result, Cindi has earned the admiration and respect of students, colleagues, parents and community members. She has taught in East Providence for 26 years. During this time,she has taught Kindergarten, 4th, 5th and 2nd grade.
Joseph Stringfellow. Stringfellow is the Physical Education, Health and Adaptive Physical Education teacher. His leadership roles includes his participation as a member of the School Improvement Team, Safety Team and Crisis Team. Building relationships and rapport with students, families and staff is a natural gift for Joe. He is the first face most students see in the morning at arrival and the last face they see at dismissal each day. His commitment to the students’ education and well-being is undeniable. In fact, you can often see Mr. Stringfellow at a lacrosse or football game on a weekend, cheering on his Whiteknact Wonders in their personal athletic goals. While Stringfellow has been an epic name in East Providence, keeping with his family’s legacy, Joseph Stringfellow has created his own name.
Rachael DeCosta. DeCosta exhibits warmth, compassion, kindness, helpful nature, adaptability, collaborative spirit, professionalism and commitment to the school as a whole. The positive contributions that Mrs. DeCosta had made to Waddington and East Providence are countless. Colleagues and parents have commented on her welcoming and enthusiastic approach to teaching that renders her students to feel inspired, supported and included. They comment on the way she gives each student the individualized attention they need to be successful in her classroom. Her out of the box thinking with projects has dazzled staff and students alike. Perhaps what stood out most was Mrs. DeCosta’s calming presence and demeanor to all that has proven so important and vital for kids and adults alike. She is always willing to help in any way - a kind word, an idea, resources, energy, any way that is needed.
Kim Forrest. Parents and staff alike have a respect for Miss Forrest that goes far beyond the walls of the classroom. Her laugh is contagious and is often replicated by the students in front of her. The relationship she builds with each individual child is genuine. Parents have noted that Miss Forrest shows compassion toward all students and approaches each individual child with an open mind and heart. Miss Forrest communicates regularly with parents and went above and beyond during distance learning to support families and students alike. Miss Forrest is also an amazing asset to our school community. She is willing to collaborate and share her extensive background and knowledge with colleagues but is equally willing to continue to learn and try new things. Miss Forrest’s classroom is one of structure and flexibility - something that is not easily achieved but she makes it look effortless.
Kent Heights School
Lauren Gilbert. Despite being a young teacher, she has a “gift” for teaching that is evident in all that she brings to her position as Kindergarten Teacher. Lauren possesses a magical gift for working with her early childhood students. Lauren Gilbert was nominated for KHS Teacher of the Year by both colleagues and KHS families. The Kent Heights families (both current and previous students’ families) were extremely pleased with Miss Gilbert’s recognition. Miss Gilbert was described as caring, kind, compassionate, dedicated, motivated, hardworking, creative, flexible, open-minded, approachable, inclusive, articulate and a critical thinker.
Two of the most powerful comments came from both a parent, “During a pandemic Miss Gilbert made the kids and the parents feel comfortable and part of a family” and a colleague, “She truly loves what she does.”
Paul Tarasevich. Mr. Tarasevich is an 8th grade English Teacher at Martin. He is well respected by his colleagues within the school as well as in the district, he is well liked by families, and most importantly adored by his students. More affectionately known as Mr. T, Paul creates rigorous lessons for his students. He is extremely diligent in his teaching and communication with students and families. Mr. T creates a fun and enthusiastic environment for his students. Finding different ways to reach kids through music, technology, athletics and more while delivering content and helping students prepare for high school and beyond. Said one parent, “He has inspired my son to look forward to English and learning. He has made moving up to Honors classes fun. He relates to the kids with respect and an authenticity that the students respect and appreciate.” “Mr. T has the funniest way to put a smile on my face every day, he gives us enough time to do the work and explains it more than three times if we need to. Mr. T deserves to be the teacher of the year because everyone loves him!”
Pre-K @ Martin
Lacy Rego. She has worked tirelessly at strengthening the social/emotional and academic excellence of the East Providence Pre K Program at Martin. According to her PreK colleagues she is very compassionate. She has shown such dedication and passion for teaching. She is always pleasant and very dependable. She is overall a wonderful teacher and friend. Ms. Rego has a solid home connection. Comments from families of students in the program are always positive and excitable. She is described by them as being, Organized, caring, compassionate, dedicated, dependable and passionate. One parent stated, “she will meet your needs during school hours and after. My daughter always talks good about her every day, she always looks forward to seeing her.” Another shared, “she is kind and towards students and parents and keeps us updated on our children.
EP High School
John Turbitt. Mr. Turbitt credits his East Providence teachers for inspiring him to pursue a career in History Education. Mr. Turbitt attended the University of Rhode Island and Providence College where he fulfilled his dream to become a Social Studies teacher. Mr. Turbitt was placed in East Providence High School to complete his student teaching requirement. As a student teacher, Mr. Turbitt was so admired and respected that National Honor Society students awarded him the Distinguished Faculty Award—a testament to his passion, dedication and engaging teaching style. As a teacher, Mr. Turbitt advocated for the creation of Rhode Island History and East Providence History. He worked tirelessly to develop the curriculum and both classes are extremely popular with students. Throughout the years, Mr. Turbitt has planned proms, fundraisers, senior activities, parties, presentations all to the benefit of the school community.