North Royalton City Schools News Article

Crystal Starfish Recipients Announced

During the week of April 12, North Royalton City Schools announced the winners of this year’s Crystal Starfish Award presented by First Federal of Lakewood.

At Valley Vista Elementary School, Counselor Dana Kesselem was presented with the Crystal Starfish Teacher Award.  Besides the award, she also received a $250 Professional Development Grant from First Federal of Lakewood. Kesselem was nominated by two parents.

Dana KesselemHer nomination states: “My children, like a lot of others, were impacted mentally with the pandemic. Mrs. Kesselem gave them tools to identify and address their feelings, as well as give many ways to get themselves back to happy feelings (aka the Green Zone). When times have gotten tough, she has been there to talk to them. She applies these sophisticated concepts in ways that they understand. Truthfully, I wish there was someone like her when I was little! I would probably understand and be able to identify my own feelings better. Even before the pandemic, Mrs. Kesselem was there for my kids. One dealing with anxiety and the other dealing with ADHD, she was able to give them each a "toolbox" full of things to help them identify their behaviors and be more in control of themselves. Kids light up when they see her. They are excited to visit her office. She is establishing an amazing baseline for these kids that will lead to better mental health understanding for the rest of their lives!”

“Mrs. Kesselem is such a positive person and a breath of fresh air.  She works very hard to ensure that students are trying their hardest in school each day.  She goes above and beyond to help students that are struggling and problem solves to help them be successful. Mrs. Kesselem also attends many school events and interacts with the students there.  She makes herself known and her smile is infectious.  Mrs. Kesselem has helped make Valley Vista a nurturing environment for both of our children.  Valley Vista would not be the same without her!”

Jackie Kuchta, administrative secretary at North Royalton Middle School was the recipient of the Crystal Starfish Support Staff Award. Several colleagues nominated Kuchta.  

Excerpts of her nominations read:

Ms. Kuchta continually works to make NRMS and our entire school community the best that they can be.  She truly understands the “ins” and “outs” of each and every process.  She thinks ten steps ahead and makes certain that each person regardless of his or her position has what he or she needs to be successful for the betterment of our kids.  I could not imagine doing this work without Jackie.  She truly is part of our leadership team and her thoughts and opinions are valued by me more than she will ever know. 

Not only has Jackie organized, updated and shared our homeroom spreadsheets (including information for over 1,100 kids), but she has assisted parents on the phone, helped teachers find information, and worked an insane amount of hours to ensure our kids and teachers have the information they need to make this all run smoothly. She hasn’t complained. She has kept us thinking ahead. She has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Jackie is the general of the office team.  She works tirelessly to support and organize staff and administration in their efforts to do what is best for our kids at NRMS.  She provides a welcoming environment to the main office.  I start my day with a “Good Morning Ms. Kuchta.” as she is diligently working.  Even though she is swamped with work, Jackie will entertain my stories and even laugh at jokes and dynamic dance moves.  We are truly blessed to have her on our NRMS Team!

Ms. Kuchta starts her day off early and works tirelessly throughout the day.  She is a driving force for both our staff and our students at the middle school. She is always consciously looking for the best outcome for a student when working on their schedules and is willing to assist staff with anything. Jackie’s calm, professional manner and ability to handle any task have earned her the respect of all staff members at the middle school and throughout the District.  

I was very fortunate to have been trained by Jackie. She is extremely knowledgeable and understands how the pieces of the office fit together.  Jackie leads by example and always considers the students, staff, and administration when problem-solving and making decisions.  She consistently goes above and beyond to make sure every detail is covered.  Along with her strong work ethic and dedication, she is very kind and compassionate and is always willing to help.  

Not only is Jackie a wonderful person she is a selfless, dedicated employee.  She has spent tireless hours learning each aspect of the office and ensures that it runs as smoothly as possible even during these ever-changing times.  If you have a question you can always rely on Jackie to have the answer.  She is always willing to stop what she is doing to help. 

From the moment she joined the staff of NRMS she has always been willing to help, learn and assist any one of us as needed.  She never truly takes a day off.  Her knowledge of the office in’s and out’s is like no other.  She has made it a priority to learn each and every task the office does and has excelled in everything she has taken on.  I can think of no other person who deserves this award more.  She is always willing to take time out of her busy day to help any of us.

I can tell from the first time I worked with Jackie that she was capable of doing almost anything.  There hasn’t been a time or situation that you couldn’t rely on her for help or direction.  Jackie is always willing to stop whatever she is doing to listen and help others.  Jackie is always pleasant, calm, and never greets anyone without her big smile.  There are two words that I think best describe Jackie.  She is both “extraordinary” and “brilliant”.  Jackie is one-of-a-kind and we are fortunate to have her in our office. 

Jackie is such an amazing person.  She is always going above and beyond to assist staff and students.  She is extremely knowledgeable of the inner workings of the building as well as the district and her kindness and demeanor are known by all who are lucky enough to interact with her.  The middle school is fortunate to have such a wonderful person on its team.  

“Both Dana and Jackie are deserving of this recognition,” said Superintendent Greg Gurka, North Royalton City Schools. “It is so clear from the numerous nominations that both Dana and Jackie received that they are an instrumental part of inspiring greatness in their buildings and with the students, parents and staff they work with daily.”

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 Endia Small, First Federal of Lakewood. “Our bank is honored to partner with the District, enabling these special individuals to be recognized publicly for their contributions.”

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