The Butterfly Award is given to a Chelsea Public Schools teacher each year at the Opening Day Convocation by the family of Carolyn Arond.
This year’s recipient was Sela Kenen of the Chelsea Opportunity Academy. In addition to being presented with the award at Convocation, Kenan was also recognized at last week’s School Committee meeting.
The award supports creative ideas and innovative instructional practices and is presented to an educator who exemplifies the qualities and attributes that Arond brought to her professional practice.
In Chelsea, at the Shurtleff and Hooks Schools, Arond focused her
attention on Limited English Proficient students who began arriving from around the world and in need of help and support. Arond retired in 2006 and passed away in 2012.
Chelsea Opportunity Academy assistant principal said Kenen exemplifies those qualities exemplified by Arond, making her a perfect choice for the award.
“It’s nearly impossible to express how clearly Sela exemplifies the … characteristics (of a Butterfly award nominee),” Chelsea Opportunity Academy assistant principal Adam Aronson stated.
Aronson said Kenan led the charge to make sure English Language Learners at Chelsea Opportunity Academy did not fall behind during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In 2020, the world closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, work went remote for nearly all workers except for our essential workers,” stated Aronson. “The Chelsea Opportunity Academy serves students who are over age and undercredited, who are off track to graduate due to outside life circumstances. Our students are 17 or older, and often work full-time jobs.”
During the pandemic, 70 percent of the academy students were working full time while completing courses during the pandemic, he added.
“One population of students began to fall further and further behind, our English Language Learner students; particularly those who were working and had major gaps in their education,” said Aronson. “Sela has advocated ferociously at times for our students. She has pushed her fellow teachers and administration to dig deep into ELL best practices.”
Kenen facilitated a year-and-a-half of professional development services for staff to fulfill best practices in curriculum and instruction so that her colleagues could best support all students.
“She worked nights and weekends to provide an educational experience and social service connections to our students,” said Aronson.
As the school reopened, Kenen noticed that the school’s working ELL students still continued to lag behind in terms of academic credit.
“Many of those students held highly skilled jobs, including an arborist, a head chef, and a floor installation expert,” stated Aronson.
Kenen advocated for a work-to-credit program at Chelsea Opportunity Academy that has already served over 40 of the city’s most at-need students.
“Her students are loved, supported, and pushed to become their best selves,” stated Aronson.
Kenen received a $500 award that can be used for professional development opportunities or for materials and/or activities that will enhance and support student learning.