BPS Foundation Hosts Annual Awards Ceremony
The Bennington Public Schools Foundation hosted its 19th Annual Awards Ceremony on Sunday, April 28, at Bennington High School to recognize scholarship recipients, “Of the Year” Award winners, and retiring teachers in the district.
Ranging from $500 to $5,000, the Foundation awarded 32 students with scholarships totaling $46,500. Since 1998, the organization has given $354,150 in scholarships. Several local Bennington organizations also presented scholarships at the ceremony.
Students planning to attend both two-year and four-year colleges are eligible to receive Foundation scholarships and are recognized for a variety of different reasons like academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and community service.
The Foundation also presented four “Of the Year” awards: Volunteer of the Year, Support Staff of the Year, New Educator of the Year, and Distinguished Educator of the Year.
Volunteer of the Year, Dr. Paul Bacino: Dr. Paul Bacino, a Marshalltown, Iowa native, graduated from Creighton University Dental School in 1981. After marrying his wife, Janice, in 1982 he moved his dental practice to downtown Bennington in 1983 and has now been serving the community for more than 35 years. Paul and Janice have two children, Anthony and Laura, as well as two grandchildren, Tyler and Mckenzie. As an active member of the Bennington community, Dr. Bacino has served as president of the Bennington Jaycees and also played an integral role in bringing a soccer program to Bennington. For more than 10 years, Dr. Bacino’s staff has closed their office annually to perform state mandated screenings for kindergarten through 4th graders, 7th graders, and 10th graders in the Bennington school district for free. He also gives more than 1,500 students a toothbrush each year and provides dentist office tours for Bennington kindergartners. Regarding Dr. Bacino’s involvement, one Bennington staff member said: “His sense of volunteerism for the community is long standing and very appreciated.”
Support Staff of the Year, Lyle Brayton: Mr. Brayton has served Bennington Public Schools as a bus driver for the past 10 years. For the last nine years, he has been the preschool and special education bus driver. Married to his wife, Lori, for 44 years, the couple have two daughters, Dana (Cory), and Nichole (Jeremy). Lyle and Lori also have four grandchildren: Claire, Vahn, Laela and Vivian. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and watching baseball and football games. One parent who nominated Lyle said: “Lyle is an amazing bus driver. He is extremely caring and compassionate. His heart is full of love and encouragement. He greets each child and patiently waits as they load the bus. He truly cares about them and how they are doing.” A staff member said: “Lyle is cheerful, positive, calm and patient. The kids love him and he always greets them with a smile.”
New Educator of the Year, Ms. Amy Nguyen: Ms. Nguyen graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in French and Global Studies. While at Wesleyan, she spent a year studying abroad in Amiens, France. She then enrolled in the Teacher Academy Project (TAP) at the University of Nebraska Omaha to earn a master’s degree in Secondary Education at an accelerated pace and graduated in May of 2017. She is currently in her second year of teaching at Bennington and teaches French 1, 2 & 3 as well as AP French. Nguyen serves as the sponsor for Student Senate/Circle of Badgers and French Club while also assisting with Saturday School, Credit Recovery and Summer School. One of several students who nominated her said: “Madame Nguyen has made one of the biggest impacts on me throughout my high school career. As a senior about to graduate, I can proudly say that being in her class has made me a better student and person. She is fully committed to the success of her students and I am so appreciative of all that she has done for me.”
Distinguished Educator of the Year, Mrs. Jennifer Flynn: Jen Flynn is a 4th grade teacher at Bennington Elementary. This is her 8th year teaching for Bennington Public Schools and 13th year teaching overall. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Reading Minor in 2006 from the University of South Dakota. In 2009, she obtained her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an English as a Second Language endorsement.
Mrs. Flynn currently is on the core team for Anchor Pointe Elementary. Each morning she leads reading club and loves visits from all of her reading club regulars. She previously served on district committees that select curriculum and district assessments. She has been a cooperating teacher for two student teachers in Bennington and also a mentor for new teachers in the Bennington School District. Outside of school Jen is married to her husband, Tom, and they have two boys, Tate (7) and Myles (5.) The family enjoys cheering on Husker athletics, playing with their dog, Watson, and spending time outdoors. One parent who nominated her said: “Mrs. Flynn is an amazing teacher who passes her love of learning on to her students. She is incredibly supportive of her students and shows a true interest in their personal lives.”
Retiring teachers recognized at the ceremony included Nancy Mohr, who has taught Family and Consumer Science at Bennington for more than 40 years, and Cindy Pichler, who has taught at Bennington Elementary for 10 years.
Visit https://benningtonschoolsfoundation.org/scholarships to view the full list of Foundation scholarship recipients and learn how to create a future scholarship for students with the BPS Foundation.