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North Royalton City Schools Announces Second Semester Crystal Starfish Recipients
North Royalton City Schools announced the winners of the second semester Crystal Starfish Award presented by the First Federal of Lakewood.

At Royal View Elementary, Mrs. Laura Kunz, the preschool speech therapist, was presented the Crystal Starfish Teacher Award. Besides the award, she also received a $250 Professional Development Grant from the First Federal of Lakewood, a $50 gift certificate to Cleats restaurant and flowers from Independence Flowers and Gifts. Mrs. Kunz received 14 nominations from a variety of fellow teachers, support staff, and parents.

“Everyone needs a cheerleader! For every child that comes through Lil’ Bears Preschool, Laura Kunz is their personal Cheering Squad. In her time at North Royalton, Laura has helped literally hundreds of kids learn to use their voice to express themselves and develop the important milestones of communication,” said Preschool Coordinator and Director of Instructional Technology Mike McGinnis, North Royalton City Schools.

Highlights of her nominations include:

● Laura is always there to give advice, guidance and support when needed.
● She also is an inspiration to the lives of my students. She absolutely loves working with students and loves to see them succeed.
● Her personality and problem-solving ability when it comes to treating students with disabilities is unmatched.
● Her work and coordination helped my son go from saying a few words when he began at Little Bears to quickly talking in complete sentences and expressing himself verbally
● Both of my girls have had her in preschool. They both speak very well and have improved from the program. She has done a great job with some of our special needs friends as well.
● HUGE impact with my child who has apraxia, down syndrome and hearing loss. The Touch Cue system she developed has been key to my daughter’s emerging speech and has even been shared with children outside the school system. Her enthusiasm and skill has impacted all her students both typical and special needs.
● Her upbeat and kind personality draws the kids in and makes learning fun. She has a smile that lights up the room and is dedicated to her work.
● She continues to serve as mentor to not only myself, but other teachers and speech language pathologists that are just beginning their careers. She always has time to answer a question from a colleague or brainstorm about a strategy or a technique to try with a child. She approaches all parents with kindness during difficult meetings.
● She brings a positive energy to our preschool team (including leaving notes of encouragement on our desks when we need it the most). Each week she creates fun and meaningful learning opportunities for not only the students with identified communication needs, but all children in the preschool program through running a circle time and a language based center each week in each preschool classroom.
● When she enters our room, all the children stop and make a point to say “hi” to her because of the joy she brings to them. You can see it on the faces of the children she is working with that they adore her and know how much she cares for them.
● Laura is an amazing teacher and is always willing to go above and beyond to meet the unique needs of our youngest learners in our district.


Mrs. Michelle Parente, North Royalton Middle School office aide, is the recipient of the Crystal Starfish Support Staff Award. Along with the award, presented by First Federal of Lakewood, Parente received a $50 gift certificate to Cleats restaurant and flowers from Independence Flowers and Gifts. Her colleagues nominated her.

“Mrs. Parente is truly a kind, caring, individual, who always has a smile on her face,” said Jeff Cicerchi, principal, North Royalton Middle School. “She is the first person that guests of NRMS interact with as the come into the school. She exemplifies the ideal of serving others and is quick to drop whatever she is doing to help a student, teacher, or parent. She wants what is best for our school community and works each day to ensure that NRMS is a great school. Mrs. Parente models how people of all ages should interact and treat one another and for those reasons is certainly deserving of the Crystal Starfish Award.”

Highlights of her nomination include:

● Mrs. Parente is always happy to greet everyone with a smile when they come into the middle school office. She deals with students, parents and staff on a daily basis and is always willing to go above and beyond to help anyone out.

● Mrs. Parente will always go the extra mile to help out with special projects that we may have in the office. She is a hard worker and never complains, she is a true joy to work with!

● Her genuine kindness and helpfulness towards staff, students and visitors that come into our building is refreshing. She makes everyone feel welcomed and important.

● Mrs. Parente is an extremely hard-working person and goes above and beyond to ensure that a child gets their book they forgot at home, a lunch they may have left on the bus, or keys to get into their house at the end of the day. She's a wealth of knowledge, providing information to parents and students and a "go-to" for all the staff members.

● She empowers all of us as learners, as she truly lives her life by setting a good, honest example of what a role model should be.

● Michelle is the most kind and thoughtful person I have ever met. If she hears that something needs to be done, she will do it for you before you even have a chance to get up and do it.

● She is the “face” of the middle school as the first person anyone sees when they come into the office. She is a remarkable person and employee. She goes above and beyond every day to make sure the people around her are happy. She makes coming to work a pleasure.

“Both Laura and Michelle are deserving of this recognition,” said Superintendent Greg Gurka, North Royalton City Schools. “The Crystal Starfish award was developed to recognize those staff members who make a difference in the lives of others. Both Laura and Michelle live our mission of inspiring and empowering learners by making a difference in their lives of our students, staff and parents. Congratulations to both of them and thank you to those who nominated them.”

The First Federal of Lakewood Crystal Starfish awards are presented to support staff members and teachers who make a difference in their schools and go above and beyond in all that they do. “Every day, teachers and staff of North Royalton City Schools are making a difference,” said Branch Operations Manager Michelle Cabassa, First Federal of Lakewood. “Our bank is honored to partner with the district, enabling these special individuals to be recognized publicly for their contributions.”