Community Connection Award Nominations

  • To learn more about our Community Connection Award Recipients, click here.

    The Community Connection Award will be awarded monthly to any member of the Ken-Ton School District community who has furthered or contributed to the betterment of the district and its schools, students, and staff. Nominations will be accepted quarterly, and award winners will be notified and announced. Each award will be presented at a monthly Board of Education meeting. Any member of the Ken-Ton School District community is eligible to be nominated including, but not limited to, parents/guardians of current or former students, retired staff, volunteers, local officials, employers, alumni, and residents.

    Please note that current staff/students are not eligible, as they will be distinguished separately.

    Click here to access the form, which should also display below: Community Connection Award Nomination Form

    If you have any trouble accessing the form, please contact pfanelli@ktufsd.org or call 716-874-8400 ext. 20699

Community Connection Award Recipients

  • Steve Ash

    Steve Ash is a retired educator who is the driving force behind the annual Jerry Starr Ken-Ton Schools' SleepOut, which takes place each year on the first Friday in February. Participants sleep outside in refrigerator boxes to collect donations while also raising awareness about the importance of helping the less fortunate. In 1988, Steve joined his colleagues at Kenmore West, Jerry Starr and Charles Kohler, in founding the SleepOut which quickly became a much-anticipated annual event.

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  • Antara Satchidanand & Yashodhara Satchidanand

    ntara Satchidanand is a parent of a 12th-grade student in the Big Picture Program at Kenmore Junior/Senior High School. Antara is the driving force behind Big Picture’s new Home/School Association and has also become involved with the district's Shared Decision Making Team and Parent Cabinet. Antara’s mother, Dr. Yashodhara Satchidanand, has also been very involved in Ken-Ton Schools as a parent and now as a grandparent.

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  • Melissa Salvati

    Melissa Salvati is the parent of two students in the Ken-Ton School District, and she has devoted countless hours in support of the parent/teacher organizations at the schools her children attended. Most recently, Melissa has been actively involved in the Hoover Middle School PTA where she served as an officer and volunteered her time to make many PTA-sponsored events a tremendous success. Melissa was very involved in the Hoover Elementary HSA when her children attended Hoover Elementary as well.

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  • Linde Technology Center

    Linde (formerly known as Praxair) is one of Ken-Ton's largest employers and is located adjacent to the Holmes Elementary campus. Linde has had a very close partnership with the school for decades. Since 1992, Linde has operated an extremely successful Mentoring Program in partnership with Holmes. Through this program, approximately 20 Linde employees mentor selected students after school either at Holmes or on the Linde campus. Students participate once or twice a month.

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  • Kenneth Isbrandt

    Ken volunteered his time in support of the 2022 Kenmore East Baseball Meat Raffle, which was a vitally important fundraiser for the program. Ken spent countless hours working tirelessly for this event, making it a huge success. Thanks to the funds that were raised at the event, players were able to get beautiful gear for free and were able to take part in their end-of-year banquet at no cost to them. Additionally, the team was able to purchase a state-of-the-art pitching machine.

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  • Ed Mahoney

    Ed Mahoney is a Kenmore West High School alumnus and a member of the Kenmore West Athletic Hall of Fame who has served as a volunteer coach within the Kenmore West Varsity Baseball Program for the past eight years. Ed has been a tremendous asset to the team. He works one-on-one with the pitchers, a position he has significant expertise with, and assists Coach Haynes in calling pitches during games. He and his wife Gladys never miss a game. Ed has built very strong relationships with the players.

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  • Dan Wiles

    For decades, Dan Wiles has been a driving force behind youth programming and services that have benefited countless Ken-Ton School District students and families. He worked for approximately 40 years for the Town of Tonawanda Youth, Parks and Recreation Department including as its Director. After retiring, Dan served as executive director of the Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels. He served in this capacity for 8 years, significantly growing and improving the organization's operations.

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  • Jennifer Rumschik

    Jennifer Rumschik is a former Kenmore West parent who donates her time and photography equipment for various Kenmore West athletic programs. Jennifer first got started when her own children were Kenmore West athletes and began taking pictures of other sports teams as well. Although her children have graduated, she continues to attend Kenmore West games to take high quality photographs of individual players and teams.

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  • Lisa Susko

    Lisa Susko is the owner of Championship Martial Arts (formerly Jindo Martial Arts), a martial arts training center located in Tonawanda. Lisa has been active in elementary schools and routinely participates in school events. She regularly donates proceeds from new membership sign-ups back to the schools. Lisa has volunteered to run Character Education martial arts classes which students have greatly enjoyed. The money she raises through her activities goes back to the school.

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  • Timothy & Patricia Hirschbeck

    Since 1991, Tim and Tricia Hirschbeck have operated KidsPlay of WNY, which offers a multitude of sports programs for school-age students. KidsPlay has been a trusted and valued member of the Ken-Ton Community Education program for more than 25 years. Countless Ken-Ton athletes first got started in one of the KidsPlay programs or could credit KidsPlay for much of their future athletic success. The Hirschbecks have been a reliable partner offering sports programming year-round for hundreds of youth annually

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  • Dawn Stinner

    Dawn Stinner is a district parent who has devoted countless hours in support of students and families over the years. Dawn has 4 students enrolled in Ken-Ton Schools and another who graduated last June. Dawn founded the Special Education Parent Teacher Organization (SEPTO) and currently serves as Director. SEPTO maintains a close partnership with the Special Education Department and its mission is to provide a support network for parents of students with special needs.

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  • Ken-Ton Kiwanis

    Kiwanis is an international volunteer-led organization that is dedicated to improving the world “one child and one community at a time." The Ken-Ton chapter, which is now in its 86th year, is a prime example of how this organization is living up to its mission. Ken-Ton Kiwanis is active throughout the year supporting numerous events and activities for children and families such as the Halloween Bash, Kentoberfest, National Night Out, Town 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, and the Holiday Gala, just to name a few.

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  • Art Traver

    Art Traver serves on the Audit Committee. He has served in this capacity for many years, including as its chairperson. The Audit Committee plays a very important role. It is responsible for oversight of the financial reporting and audit process which ensures that school district spending is in compliance with all laws and regulations. Mr. Traver volunteers his time for this position. He is known for his attention to detail and his extensive knowledge of accounting standards, which is a highly specialized field.

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  • Eric Napoli

    Eric Napoli is the driving force behind the Sheridan Parkside Life Center, an extremely important resource for families of the Sheridan Parkside neighborhood who attend Holmes Elementary. Located near the Sheridan Parkside Community Center, this community resource provides numerous services for families in the neighborhood such as a free laundromat, clothing closet, community meeting place, cooking and kitchen classes, other life skills training, and everyday support for residents.

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  • Kate Allen

    Kate Allen is the gym manager for WNY MMA & Fitness. The gym is an internship site for students at the Big Picture Program. Thanks to Kate, WNY MMA & Fitness is one of the Big Picture Program's longest-serving internship sites. She has had three interns so far over the past five years. Kate remains a big supporter of the Big Picture Program. Big Picture depends on businesses like Kate's to provide internship opportunities for students since internships are such a major part of the program.

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  • Florian Mendal

    Ever since he moved to Kenmore following his retirement approximately 10 years ago, Florian Mendal has devoted his time and resources as a volunteer photographer for multiple Kenmore West High School sports including Football, Baseball, Boys Basketball and Girls Basketball. Mr. Mendal is a familiar face on the sidelines and has a great relationship with players, coaches, and the Athletics Department. He never misses a game. He uses his own equipment to document the season.

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  • Walter "Wally" Byers

    Wally Byers, a graduate of Kenmore East, has served with the Brighton Fire Company since 1968. Wally has served many positions in the department, but one of his most important responsibilities has been teaching fire safety to countless children in the Ken-Ton community. Four schools are located within the Brighton fire district as well as many pre-school and daycare programs. For all of these locations, Wally is the fire department’s go-to person to teach fire prevention and safety.

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  • David Stinner

    As an integral part of the Academy Advisory Boards, which include business and industry representatives like him, David has helped guide these programs and continues to provide invaluable technology, business, and industry experience. He is always ready to do whatever it takes to support the Academies and other high school programs. David has been a phenomenal mentor for our students, providing internship opportunities for those interested in getting hands-on real-world experience.

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  • Karen Whitelaw

    Karen Whitelaw has been one of the most active members of our school district community for many, many years. Her dedication to our students and families is unmatched. She never hesitates to do whatever she can to support our schools and programs, advocate on behalf of students, and promote family and community participation. Over the years, Karen has held numerous parent leadership positions including President of the District Parent/Teacher/Student Association as well as the Kenmore East and Franklin Middle PTAs.

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  • Alicia Matesic

    Alicia Matesic was actively involved in the Edison Elementary School PTA ever since her oldest child was in kindergarten more than five years ago. She quickly joined the PTA Board and took on the position of President at the start of the 2018-19 school year. She served as PTA President for three years and made countless contributions to the Edison community including promoting parent participation, facilitating new student activities, helping to design new safer arrival and dismissal procedures, and bringing the immensely successful Fun Run to Edison.

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  • Elizabeth Kerr

    Elizabeth Kerr and her children have been among the most dedicated supporters of the Edison Community Garden, which has become the centerpiece of the Edison campus and an amazing resource for students, staff and families. The Garden wouldn't have been possible without the tireless support and dedication of community members like Elizabeth. She and her two children can be seen frequently attending to the Garden, planting, watering, and weeding.

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  • Mariko Denton

    Throughout the pandemic, remote learning has presented many challenges for families, students, and educators. Before the first day of school, Mrs. Denton and her husband Brandon anticipated some of the difficulties that families would soon be facing, especially those with multiple children. They reached out to District administrators in the spirit of collaboration and provided suggestions on how remote learning could be improved even more. (Click the link to continue reading.)

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  • Joseph Catalano

    Joe Catalano may be one of the most recognizable people in the Ken-Ton community. Joe has coached athletics in the Ken-Ton School District for more than 30 years, primarily at Kenmore West but at Kenmore East as well. Sports he has coached include softball, football, basketball, volleyball, and cross country. The success of many of our teams has been due in large part to the summer and off-season teams that Joe has worked with that eventually fed into our school programs. (Click the link to continue reading.)

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  • Paul Spors

    Paul Spors has served the Ken-Ton School District community as a parent leader, volunteer and advocate for many years. Most recently, his son Daniel graduated from Kenmore East High School in 2018, but Paul remains actively involved at the school and district level. He has served as a volunteer coach for the Kenmore East Baseball Team and has been a youth baseball coach in the Town of Tonawanda for many years. (Click the link to continue reading.)

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  • Jennifer Hayes

    Jennifer Hayes is a very active Ken-Ton School District parent and volunteer, who was independently nominated by two different individuals in our community. Jennifer’s two children have been enrolled at different schools including Holmes Elementary, Hoover Middle, and Kenmore West, and she has been actively involved in each of those schools. (Click the link to continue reading.)

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