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 or call 716-874-8400 ext. 20699

Community Connection Award Recipients

  • 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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  • Gennie Vitko

    Gennie Vitko is an amazing advocate, parent, community member, and district leader. Gennie has been actively involved in the leadership of numerous groups including the Kenmore East Music Boosters and parent/teacher organizations at several different schools. Gennie has five children who have attended Kenmore East, Franklin, Hoover, and Edison, and she has been actively involved in the leadership of parent groups at each of those schools. (Click the link to continue reading.)

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  • Dr. Ramona Santa Maria

    Dr. Ramona Santa Maria is a professor in the Computer Information Systems Department at Buffalo State College who has been actively involved in the development of our high school Career Academies and fostering a college-bound culture. Dr. Santa Maria has won several awards for excellence in teaching, and she has presented research at the regional and national level. (Click the link to continue reading.)

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