I vividly remember the first day I met KK Cherney. I had been surplussed from a school I loved and had been sent to work at a new school being built. I was nervous about meeting my new principal and so uncertain about what my future held. She greeted me with a 1000 watt smile and the warmest hey and sincerest welcome you’ve ever heard at the door of our first assembly as a faculty and my life has never been the same. The pit in my stomach turned to anticipation of something that was sure to be exciting if she was involved. In looking back over the last 13 years, exciting isn’t quite the right word – the experience is more like electrifying! I fell in love with her instantly. I can also promise you that everyone, grown or not, who has met her could share a near identical story.
She understands the importance of relationships and seeks to know and love every child she serves. She is routinely sought out by students for celebrations of a goal achieved, help in completing a difficult task, or for a hug and reassurance that everything will be ok during times of disappointment and sadness. One of the greatest honors I receive is when a child mistakenly calls me Mrs. KK – I wish! She engages authors, illustrators, business partners, and community members in joining our mission to create truly meaningful learning experiences for children. She doesn’t know the word “no” and sees every obstacle to success as a mere challenge.
I have never known an educator more passionate about creating a love of books in children. Her passion for the written word is contagious. From enthralling story times, that almost surely involve costuming or props, to her engagement of students in the use of Web 2.0 tools every child loves the learning time spent with Mrs. KK. Our “Book Fairy” routinely spends every dime of the profits from our Book Fairs each year buying and placing books in the hands of those who might not have them otherwise. She worked this past year to create an offsite library in one of our largest neighborhoods so that families could get their hands on books after the school day and throughout the summer.
I was not surprised to find out this summer that she had been nominated for and selected as one of the five finalists for the Alferd Williams Literacy Award given by Scholastic to honor those who inspire a love of reading. Alferd Williams enrolled in first grade at the age of 70 after a lifetime of illiteracy to make good on a promise he had made to his mother to learn to read. In my book there is no one more more suited for or deserving of this honor than KK Cherney. Please visit www.scholastic.com/literacyaward to place your vote for Chets Creek Elementary’s Book Fairy, KK Cherney!