A special education instructional aide with the Central Bucks School District recently won a statewide award for her work in the classroom.
Denise Kueny, who works at Tohickon Middle School, was named the 2023 Dolores McCracken Education Support Professional of the Year in Pennsylvania during American Education Week.
During the special week, a day is set aside to recognize the hardworking support staffs that are instrumental in helping countless students succeed.
“Over the past 21 years, I have been fortunate to go to work in a place I love, with people I love. I have met, helped and been inspired by hundreds of incredible students who have forever impacted my life. I am grateful and humbled by this award. Thank you,” said Kueny in accepting the recognition.
“It is an opportunity to highlight the value of every support professional and the work they do each day in order to foster an environment where students can thrive and achieve their goals,” she said.
Throughout her career, Kueny has assisted students in learning skills and lessons, offering them guidance and always encouraging them. She also spends much of her free time preparing to help students every day, her colleagues said.
“Her commitment to our students’ success knows no bounds,” wrote Central Bucks Education Support Professional President Deneen Dry in her nomination of Kueny. “She goes the extra mile to ensure that each child feels valued and empowered.”
Kueny is a strong supporter of her local union — the Central Bucks Education Support Professionals Association — said Dry.
She’s often at school before the bell to greet students as they get to school, said Bill Senavaitis, president of the PSEA Mideastern Region and a teacher at Tohickon, in his nomination of Kueny.
“If Denise is in a classroom, she is helping students — not just her students, everyone in the room, including the other adults,” Senavaitis wrote in nominating his colleague.
Michelle Dachowski, a teacher and colleague at Tohickon Middle School, told the selection team that Kueny works to ensure both the academic and emotional needs of students are met.
“Denise knows that if the student is not emotionally present within the classroom, they are unable to demonstrate their understanding of the skills and concepts being taught. She builds a rapport with her students that allows them to share when they need additional support.”
Her nomination said that in addition to working as an instructional aide, Kueny is a building rep for the union. She’s been involved in the Relay for Life, an annual spring fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at Tohickon Middle School.
As PSEA’s Dolores McCracken Education Support Professional of the Year, Kueny will be recognized at the PSEA House of Delegates’ meeting in December. She will also be in the running to be the National Education Association’s Education Support Professional of the Year in 2024.
The award is named in memory for the late Dolores McCracken, who served as PSEA’s president until her death in November 2018 following a brief battle with cancer. McCracken worked as a paraeducator in a sixth-grade inclusion classroom in the Council Rock School District for nearly two decades.
During that time, she was a local, region and statewide PSEA leader, ultimately becoming the first education support professional member to serve as PSEA’s president.