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Shelton Lower School teacher Jennifer Drake is known as a "team player willing to help in any situation."

Three Shelton teachers and a coach received the 2023-2024 Shelton Parents' Association Recognition Kudos (SPARK) Award at the May 30 Shelton End-of-the-Year Staff Appreciation Luncheon. This is the ninth year that SPA presented the recognition. Awards are based on comments received in the spring parent survey. Each winner will receive a SPARK crystal statue and a check for $500. 

Lower School: Jennifer Drake

Shelton Head of Lower School Christine Davis described Shelton Lower School teacher Jennifer Drake as a team player willing to help in any situation. "Jennifer is always cheerful and flexible, and our division is better for it," Davis said. One Shelton parent commended Drake for being welcoming and encouraging. "She walked alongside us as we transitioned into a new school and environment. She was always accessible to calm any of my fears or my daughter's fears." Another parent said, "Mrs. Drake has a calm demeanor and is patient and kind. She challenged our son unlike any teacher has before."

Middle School: Maria Nikolopoulos

Middle School Head of School Patricia Gallaher described Shelton Middle School teacher Maria Nikolopoulos as a teacher who builds and maintains a solid, meaningful rapport with her students because she takes time to understand their interests and struggles. "She makes students feel seen, heard and valued," Gallaher said. "Some students come to her feeling beaten down, and by the time they leave her room, they begin to believe in themselves. She has warmth, compassion and a sense of humor in the classroom, with high expectations of her students to engage, question and learn from her. She's a team player and is respected by her students and colleagues."

Upper School: Dr. Samantha Cason

Shelton Head of Upper School Jenny Cheatham called Shelton Upper School teacher Dr. Samantha Cason an exceptional teacher and colleague. "Her intelligence and passion for science shine through, and her students truly recognize and appreciate these qualities," Cheatham said. "She's also willing to lend a hand, whether it is to help a student, a fellow teacher or the school community as a whole. We are lucky to have Samantha in our science department."

All Around: Taiesha Olden

Shelton Athletic Director Alan Burt said Shelton coach Taiesha Olden is an organized, dedicated team player. "As the head coach for Cross Country and Track & Field, she is reliable, conscientious, professional and committed," Burt said. "She is also known for her adaptability, cheerful demeanor and her zest for life."

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