COVENTRY — The school committee kicked off its meeting this week by celebrating Kerri Luchka, a fifth grade teacher at Western Coventry Elementary, for having recently been named a recipient of a prestigious national award.
“I just love my job and the kids in front of me,” Luchka said Thursday, standing before the school committee. “Honestly, when I look out and I see them, I see the future.”
A 2019 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Luchka traveled last week to Washington D.C., where she and four other teachers from Rhode Island each received a citation and $10,000.
Established by Congress in 1983, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the highest award given to K-12 math and science educators, recognizing “outstanding teachers” for their contributions to those subjects.
Luchka, who this year is teaching English Language Arts, called her experience in Washington D.C. “exhilarating and inspirational.”
“I was able to converse with like-minded individuals from across the nation,” she continued. “Our conversations were filled with optimism, hope and familiar stories of our students.”
Hired by Coventry Public Schools in 2010, Luchka has been working as an educator for more than 15 years. Except for a couple of years teaching math and science to sixth graders at Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School, much of her time in Coventry has been spent at Western Coventry Elementary School.
Amy Anzalone, principal at the elementary school, called Luchka a “model for her colleagues,” and “one of the most passionate, talented and hardworking” educators she’s ever worked with.
“Her devotion to the profession, and specifically to the teaching and learning of science, is inspirational,” said Anzalone, who nominated Luchka for the award.
Anzalone was teaching second grade at Blackrock Elementary School in 2001 when she hosted Luchka, then a student at Rhode Island College, as a student teacher.
“Having her as my student teacher made me a better educator from day one,” Anzalone said.
Standing before the school committee Thursday evening, Anzalone added that she admires Luchka for the ways in which she challenges her students to be better thinkers and to continue learning outside of the classroom. She noted that Luchka has been a lead writer of Western Elementary’s science curriculum, and attributed Luchka’s efforts to add more inquiry-based instruction at the school to its vast improvement on science assessments.
This recognition isn’t the first for Luchka, who in 2017 was also named Agriscience Teacher of the Year by the Eastern States Exposition.
She’s also been a National Energy Education Development Project educator in many schools, and several years ago established the green team at Western Elementary. With Luchka at its helm, the team has been recognized at both the state and national levels.
As she wrapped up her comments Thursday, Anzalone called Luchka “more than a teacher of science.”
“Going above and beyond is what she does every single day,” she said.