Three educators have been selected as this year’s Shining Star Award nominees from grant applications submitted for funding to the Grove Education Foundation for Excellence (GEFFE).

The 2019 Shining Star winner will be announced at the annual GEFFE Gala, April 6, at the Grove Civic Center.

This past fall, the GEFFE board reviewed and funded more than 50 grants submitted by educators at all levels of the Grove School District.

From the awarded grants, the board selected the top three grant recipients whose creativity promotes GEFFE’s primary goal of excellence in education.

Each nominee will receive a trophy and a $100 cash award. The Shining Star winner will receive a $500 cash award and a trophy. All the trophies are designed by Society Awards.

Margaret Burch

Margaret Burch, an art teacher at the Early Childhood Center (ECC) and Lower Elementary at Grove, was nominated for her grant “Clay Sculpture, Pottery and Mixed Media.”

The $4,934.21 grant allowed Burch to purchase art supplies to allow students to explore and experience various art styles and produce different art projects. Burch anticipates more than 700 students in from kindergarten through third grade will benefit from this grant.

The grant funds also allowed Burch to purchase a kiln and necessary supplies to enable her students to produce finished ceramic pieces.

“Careers in the art field are abounding in our world,” Burch stated in her grant application. “From architecture, engineering, fashion, dentistry, medical, technology, and other fields, are is a mandatory requirement. The process of doing art is as important as the final project, showing the thinking process needed to accomplish the task.”

Burch is a native of southwest Missouri and graduated from Neosho High School.

She received a bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri Southern State University. She taught for more than 35 years in Missouri before retiring in 2017.

She came to the Grove school system as a substitute and then accepted the art position at the ECC and Lower Elementary in 2018.

Burch and her husband Jim have one son, Matthew and two grandchildren.

Michelle Kirkendall

The second nominee is Michelle Kirkendall, a special education teacher at Grove’s Lower Elementary. She received $1,327.822 for her grant “Hands on Learning.”

The grant funds the purchase of a light box and other manipulatives her students can utilize to assist with their learning of literacy and math skills.

“The special needs students I work with process things visually and through touch,” Kirkendall wrote in her grant application.

She explained that the items purchased with the grant will include a color-changing board, a sensory table with sand and a water-table where students can find floating alphabet balls to encourage letter recognition.

Kirkendall graduated from East Central University in Ada and is her 13th year of teaching.

She began her teaching career in Shawnee, Oklahoma and later taught in Galena, Kansas. She also taught in Commerce, Oklahoma, before moving to the Grove area.

Kirkendall and her husband of almost 20 years, Eddie, have two children, Greyson, who is in Pre-Kindergarten at Grove and 10-month old Emma.

Jeffrey Haynes

The third nominee is Jeffrey Haynes, who teaches world history, stagecraft and speech and drama at Grove High School. Haynes was nominated for his grant “The Right Tool for the Right Job.”

The $7,566.92 grant will enable Haynes to purchase new tools for students to utilize in the constructing of sets and props for theatrical performances at the school’s Performing Arts Center (PAC).

“The need for tools in the workshop cannot be overstated,” Haynes noted in his grant application. “Whether it is building high quality sets for shows or completing props for the band, the need to have the right tool for the right job becomes imperative.

"Teaching the students basic carpentry skills along with safety will allow us to add much-needed vocation training to the theatrical experience.”

Haynes received a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in education from Ottawa University in Kansas.

He is in fourth year of teaching, all with Grove Public Schools. Along with his teaching duties, Haynes overseas the operations of the PAC.

He was the director of last year’s all-school production of “The Wizard of Oz” and is directing this year’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Haynes and his wife, Kristy, have three children: Jayton, Madyson and Ryder.

More about the award

For the eleventh year in a row, the Shining Star and nominees will receive one-of-a-kind crystal awards donated by Society Awards. The company founder of Society Awards and the CEO is David Moritz, Grove High School graduate.

Since its inception in 1997, GEFFE has donated to Grove schools well over $1,000,000 through its funding of grants and special projects. The GEFFE Gala is the primary fundraiser for the organization. Tickets for the annual gala will be available at local banks beginning in March.