Local resident graduates college with former kindergarten teacher in attendance

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Lee Watkins, Ken Koelling, Dr. Jeff Ashworth

By Ray Koelling

2010 Shorecrest graduate Kennosuke (Ken) Koelling recently received his aeronautical and electrical engineering degree, with honors, from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

The Saturday, December 13, 2014 ceremony was an amazing day for this family but it really represents neither the beginning nor end of a journey but a point along a path that really began at Lake Forest Park Elementary with an amazing classroom teacher.

Lee Watkins was Ken’s kindergarten and first grade teacher in 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 at Lake Forest Park Elementary in the Shoreline School District.

Such a time in any new student’s life can certainly be challenging and it was no less so for Ken. But Lee’s incredible skills and understanding in a classroom setting for her new students, allowed Ken to germinate and grow as both a student and developing soul.

Since she had retired from the district in 2004 we all remained in contact with her and family (now living in Arizona) our family was honored and privileged to have her be able to attend Ken’s university graduation ceremony.

Think about it; celebrating in person the graduation from college of the very same person she had welcomed into her classroom some 17 years earlier as a brand new, and very introverted, kindergarten student.

Drone designed, built and flown by his college team

The picture of Mrs. Watkins and Ken was taken after Ken’s Embry-Riddle graduation. On Ken’s left is his university counselor and aeronautical engineering professor, Dr. Jeff Ashworth. The airplane drone, which was flown successfully before graduation, was one Ken helped design and build as part of a 12 person team for their senior capstone engineering project.

Ken designed the drone in kindergarten at LFP

The picture of the drawing was made by Ken from 17 years before and which he had drawn during kindergarten at LFP.

While there were and are many great classroom teachers Ken had along the way from LFP to Kellogg to Shorecrest, having Lee Watkins for two years back in the late 1990’s as his teacher was fundamentally vital to him progressing as he did. And which then allowed and gave him the opportunity to face subsequent schooling and life as well as he has now done and hopefully will into the future.

No matter the technology that will ever be conceived in education, there will never be a replacement for a great classroom teacher. 
Thanks, Lee Watkins!


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