Veteran teacher finds niche with fifth-graders
For the past 19 years, Cindy Kennington has been following her passion — teaching elementary school students.
And for the past 12 years she has been doing it at Sampit Elementary School.
Kennington, one of the five Georgetown County Teacher of the Year finalists, is the wife of David Kennington and the mother of twin high-schoolers Jordan and Justin.
She teaches fifth-graders but has taught second grade and fourth grade during her career, which began in late 1993 in Lake City.
She says of the different grades she has taught, fifth grade is her favorite.
“They think they are miniature adults. One of the things we do is sit on the floor and read,” she said.
Reading is very important to Kennington.
“I have to make sure my kids (which is what she calls her students) are reading on grade level. I stress to them to just read and read and read.”
Kennington said she feels more kids are reading on grade level today than they were early in her career.
“I think it’s because we focus on reading in all grades,” she said.
Her students are required to read at least an hour each day. Thirty minutes at school and 30 minutes at home.
She said she has known many of her students since they were in kindergarten.
“I get to help finish the product before sending them on to middle school,” she said.
Last year, Kennington was unsure she was going to be able to continue her career. In September she suffered a stroke which kept her out of work for nearly two months.
Today, you cannot look at her and tell the stroke ever occurred. In the classroom she is full of energy.
“If my kids see me excited, they get excited,” she said.
She said it was her students who gave her the strength she needed after returning to school following her stroke.
“When I came back I would not read to them like I always had because I thought my voice sounded funny. They were the ones who encouraged me to read again. They watched me like a hawk. They made sure every day I was taking my medicine,” she said.
Kennington also has the admiration of her peers.
“She puts a smile not only on my face but on the faces of the children every day,” said Charlotte Carroll, another fifth-grade teacher. “Her kids and I are better off for knowing her.”
Kennington said she makes sure she tells her ‘kids’ she loves them every day.
By Scott Harper
This is the third in a series of articles on the 2013 Teacher of the Year finalists. The winner will be announced at a banquet next week.
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