Florence Wilson’s Rycek hooks national award

Jordan Koerperich

Sugar Beet staff reporter

A national award has been presented to a Florence Wilson staff member. Florence Wilson Elementary School psychologist Jenna Rycek received a Life Changer of the Year Spotlight Award from the National Life Group. The recipient of this award was announced on Oct. 29 with a surprise award ceremony at Florence Wilson. Rycek was nominated by the principal of Florence Wilson, Skyla Wehkamp, then chosen by a selection committee.

“I felt Jenna should be recognized because last year she was really involved with our Haven house care home and she help provide support for us to figure out behavior plans for the kids that are there. We also had a Christmas drive where we filled duffle bags with clothes and blanket which she helped out a lot with. Were very excited to showcase two of our staff members that go above and beyond everyday.”

Florence Wilson counselor, Jennifer Armstrong, was also nominated for this award.

“Staff members in Garden City work very hard to make sure our kids are supported both inside and outside of the classroom. These two women exemplify what we are looking for in the district as far as putting kids first.”

The award came with a check for $2,500 for both Rycek and the school. To receive this award a K-12 teacher must be recognized for excellence, leadership, and a positive influence in the school. Rycek was awarded this for going above and beyond in her job, working with students, expressing concerns, and really caring for the students she works with.

“Skyla nominated me for this award for my service to the school,” Rycek said. “There is a wonderful team at this school and because of that team we are able to do more than just the job description. I can reach kids on a more personal level. I’m not just a school phycologist where I test kids for special education services, I’m able to reach out to that foster care community.”

Rycek is an advocate for placing students who are in and out of school in foster homes.

“I’m honored to receive this award because what I was nominated for is just what I expect of myself. I was surprised to receive the award because it’s what I do and Mrs. Wehkamp is able to see that I do things a little bit differently.”

This year National Life Group featured anyone working in a counseling role, such as psychologist, social workers and guidance counselors. Of the nearly 80 nominees considered for this award it is rare two people from the same school are nominated for this award. Rycek has been with the district for five years working with Florence Wilson and Alta Brown Elementary schools.

“Students will remember Jenna as being friendly, outgoing and helpful,” Glenda LaBarbera, the director of Special Education for USD 457, said “She is always willing to work with the kids and goes out of her way to help provide material things that many children take for granted like clothing and food.”

Jordan Koerperich is a trade and health academy junior you can contact him at koerperichj@student.gckschools.com.

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