WELLSBURG - Three Brooke High School students represented their school well in a state competition for teens aspiring to become educators, and two now are eligible to advance to the national level.
Angeline Smith, a senior from Wellsburg, earned the West Virginia Future Educators Association's Leadership Award, the highest honor bestowed by the organization; while Brianna Kowalsky, a senior from Follansbee, placed first in the job application division of the competition.
Kirsten Minger, a senior from Colliers, didn't place in the lesson plan and delivery division in which she competed but had an exceptional presentation, said Diane Lucero, instructor of the careers in education class in which the three are members.
ASPIRING EDUCATORS — From left, Brianna Kowalsky, Kirsten Minger and Angeline Smith represented Brooke High School at the West Virginia Future Educators Association conference in Roanoke. Smith and Kowalsky now are eligible to compete at the national FEA conference in April. -- Contributed
Lucero said the FEA Leadership Award is given to a student who has undertaken a service- and learning-oriented project involving at least 40 hours of work and has demonstrated personal growth through that endeavor.
During the FEA's state conference on Dec. 3 and 4, Smith reported on her efforts at teaching cooking and other living skills to youth in her school's special education program.
Under the supervision of special education instructor Shari Fonner, Smith taught students with mental and physical impairments to make spaghetti, mashed potatoes and other food.
Smith said the students liked taking home some of the food to their families as well as directions so they could make it at home, too.
She also recruited fellow students to assist with a Halloween party for the students and to aid them in practicing with the Brooke Bruin football players with the cooperation of Coach Sean Blumette.
Smith said the experience reinforced her interest in becoming a special education teacher.
The job application division won by Kowalsky, tested students' ability to submit a cover letter and resume demonstrating they are good candidates for a position and their poise and effectiveness while participating in a mock job interview.
Kowalsky said she learned about composing effective resumes in her school's business classes.
She admitted to being a bit nervous during the interview portion, during which three judges gave her points for professional attire, etiquette and other factors.
As a state officer for the FEA, Kowalsky also presented a 40-minute workshop at the conference on the importance of bodily movement to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain needed for focus, creativity and stress reduction.
Over four presentations Kowalsky taught 150 teens attending the conference to do such dances as The Pizza Hut, The Dinosaur Stomp and the Sid Shuffle. She learned the dances through YouTube, she explained, and enjoyed incorporating her love of dance into a lesson.
As state winners, Smith and Kowalsky are eligible to advance to the national FEA conference in Orlando, Fla. in April and will be raising funds to go there.
As one of 20 competing in the lesson planning and delivery division, Minger submitted a videotape of herself teaching children in Barbara Pettini's second grade class about geometric shapes using a Smartboard, a computer-aided version of an overhead projector and screen; story and other audiovisual aids.
"I loved doing the lesson. It was a lot of fun," said Minger. She added it was the most in-depth of three she did with Pettini's pupils.
The three weren't the only Brooke County residents who delivered presentations at the conference.
Lucero was asked earlier that week to fill in for a presenter who had canceled and spoke to participants about how creative activities help students to learn concepts and skills because they establish a personal connection between the pupils and the subject matter.
Retired Brooke County teacher John Lyonett also was on hand to present a talk on the West Virginia University Extension Service's Energy Express program. Lyonett serves as AmeriCorps coordinator for the summer program, which offers creative book-related activities and nutritious lunches to children in grades 1-6.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)