Recognizing Excellence, 2020-2021
KAGE Distinguished Student, 2020-2021 Prisha Hedau
Prisha Hedau is a fifth grader at Lowe Elementary in Jefferson County Public Schools. She is the daughter of Rajendra and Rachana Hedau. According to Mrs. Kristi Hayes, her G/T resource teacher, Prisha excels in academics and is talented in dance and using technology. She has participated in national math competitions and is a nationally ranked chess player. Prisha also exhibits true leadership qualities. Like so many other students, Prisha has been participating in Non-Traditional Instruction during the Covid-19 pandemic. She started using note cards to record her memories of the time. But Prisha also wanted to provide hope and positivity to her fellow students. Her notecards became paragraphs and paragraphs became chapters of her book, Pandemic 2020: A 9-Year-Old’s Perspective. Prisha shares her experiences and emotions with her readers, but she also includes Covid-19 tips, hobbies and suggestions for online school.
Prisha is now one of the youngest published authors in the world. Prisha has donated proceeds from her book to the charity Dare to Care. In 2020 already, her donation provided more than 1,000 Thanksgiving meals for families in the Louisville community. Prisha hopes to continue to support people and her community in the future.
Congratulations to our 2021 Distinguished Student, Prisha Hedau!
KAGE Service & Advocacy Award Recipients 2020-2021
Russell County native, KENT WICKER, and his wife, KAREN QUINN, felt the need to give back to his hometown. They started collaborating with Superintendent Michael Ford to identify the needs associated with Russell County’s Gifted and Talented Department. Mr. Wicker and Mrs. Quinn established the Wicker Quinn Family Foundation to provide resources to ensure that the needs of Russell County gifted students were being met. Due to their generosity and philanthropic efforts, gifted students of Russell County have access to an additional gifted teacher, educational field trips, technological resources, scholarship opportunities, teacher education and a mentorship program. The Wicker Quinn Family Foundation also provides a variety of scholarships. In the 2019-2020 school year, 20 students were awarded scholarships to attend Winter Super Saturdays. These scholarships covered the costs of transportation, meals, and workshops. This experience ignited the passion that led students to want to participate in the 2020 Virtual Fall Super Saturdays as well as SCATS and VAMPY. One student stated that her enjoyment from the workshops had inspired her to pursue attending college at WKU. Opportunities like this provide students of Russell County with a glimpse of possibilities beyond county lines.
The Wicker Quinn Family Foundation offers students the ability to explore their interests by funding field trip experiences. Funding for transportation has covered expenses for students to attend the “Walk-On: The Story of Rosa Parks” provided by EKU’s Center for the Arts; as well as a visit to SCC’s International Festival. Even during these unprecedented times, the Foundation is still making “virtual” field trips a possibility. Recently, gifted students attended “The Witch’s Carnival”, performed by the Louisville Ballet. Because Russell County is located in a rural area, this experience exposed students to a culture of arts which otherwise would not have been available. Mr. Kent Wicker and Mrs. Karen Quinn’s unparalleled dedication and passion are providing students with the means to chase their dreams and reach their fullest potential. Mr. Kent Wicker and Mrs. Karen Quinn truly embody the spirit of advocacy and strive to empower the future generation of gifted leaders! Their selfless act of visionary kindness has made monumental impacts on the lives of gifted students in Russell County. Congratulations to Kentucky Association for Gifted Education Service and Advocacy Recipients, Mr. Kent Wicker and Mrs. Karen Quinn
KATHY CARVER, Hopkins County Schools, is an exceptional role model and an inspiration to both novice and experienced gifted educators across Western Kentucky. A veteran educator of twenty-eight years, she uses her expertise, wisdom, and practicality to lift up gifted and talented students as the Hopkins County Schools Middle and High School Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher serving over 700 students at four middle schools and two high schools. She is an advocate for gifted education who works tirelessly to bring new and challenging opportunities to her gifted students. Among her many services for students, Kathy developed and publishes an annual journal to which Hopkins County students may submit creative writing, art, and photography for publication. She sponsors and mentors students in the Stock Market Game, the American Private Enterprise Systems, “The Next Big Thing” competitions as well as in district talent shows and district Junior Leadership Academy and more!
While being a valuable asset to Hopkins County School District, Kathy also services gifted education in her region and across the Commonwealth with her innovative ideas, technology skills, and effective problem-solving abilities. When confronting an issue that affects gifted services, Kathy works as a team leader to gather information and ideas from her colleagues, collaborate, problem-solve, implement, and share successes with others to promote advocacy and effective services for our gifted learners.
Kathy mentors new GT teachers in other districts and has worked with other GT leaders in Region 1 to facilitate trainings and develop a Leadership video for KDE. Through collaboration with other districts, she utilized current practices to help revise the GSSP progress reports in Infinite Campus and provided the information for state-wide implementation. Her honesty, integrity, and unfailing support of her colleagues make her a treasured facet of gifted education in her region. Kathy has a heart for children and is an exceptional educator. She is also the mother of two gifted children and advocates passionately as a parent and educator. She is an invaluable asset to the Hopkins County Schools Gifted and Talented program, the Region 1 GT Cadre, and gifted services across the Commonwealth. Congratulations to Kentucky Association for Gifted Education Service and Advocacy Award Recipient, Kathy Carver!
PAULA MLINAR, Fayette County Schools, is nothing short of magical! She works tirelessly to both equitably identify and creatively serve her students currently at Dixie Magnet Elementary in Fayette County. Her commitment to her students is truly unmatched. She strives to not just meet their cognitive needs with high standards and academic challenge, but their social-emotional needs, creative thinking needs, artistic needs, and family needs as well. She cares for her students as if they are her own children. During remote teaching, Mrs. Mlinar daily meets with small groups, individuals, and teachers. This work continues well outside of “traditional” school hours. In addition, she collaborates with colleagues in a consortium weekly to engage kids beyond her own classroom with community leaders from all walks of life. With Covid-19 restrictions in place, they hosted a gifted and talented showcase of talent at the end of the semester and gathered remotely to celebrate each other.
To meet a community need, she has joined with a friend’s non-profit, Journi’s Hope, to provide culturally-appropriate food to marginalized populations, with one of her social justice-minded students as spokesperson. To help bring some joy during the end of the semester, she hosted a socially-distanced holiday drive-by event at her own home, complete with inflatables, special guests (Santa and others), and goodie bags. A parent and former school board member wrote that Paula encourages her students, “Mlinar’s Mighty Minds”, with the motto “Dream Big!” Other parents wrote that Ms. Mlinar is a versatile and resourceful educator who meets the needs of the whole child and that she has been a source of stability during these uncertain times.
When she was nominated, her colleague wrote, “To be frank, Mrs. Mlinar is the kind of teacher and advocate that all students deserve.” Congratulations to Kentucky Association for Gifted Education Service and Advocacy Recipient, Mrs. Paula Mlinar
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Last updated 02/20/2021