How a 60-Year-Old Man and a Coffee Pot Changed Kenny’s Life

Kenny Weaver grew up in Lackawanna, New York, a small city just outside of Buffalo, with a dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. So after high school, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at a traditional university and immediately enrolled in an M.S. in Childhood Education (Grades 1-6) program.

His career dreams were coming true, and he landed a stable job to put himself through school. Kenny began working in a group home with mentally handicapped adults. His life plans and whole world completely changed when he taught a 60-year-old man how to use a coffee pot.

After graduation, Kenny pulled his New York roots and replanted his family in Pahrump, where he was hired as a special education teacher at Rosemary Clarke Middle School. While administrators and parents were doubting the children’s ability to succeed, Kenny was finding joy in the small gains they were making. He was able to motivate the students in his classroom to work, when they wouldn’t in others. When he began sending eighth-grade students to an eighth-grade class, Kenny knew his hard work and patience was paying off.

Having observed school administrators for years – some effective and some not – Kenny desired a chance to become a strong leader and make a larger impact on the world’s future leaders. As he looked into different schools and programs, Kenny felt the cost and chances of success at brick-and-mortar schools were unreasonable, and traveling to those schools after work would take too much time away from his family.

“I saw a WGU commercial, and after researching the school and programs offered, I was sold,” Kenny explained. “I loved that I could move quickly through the material that I knew well, and no one was holding me back. The material was challenging, but more than anything, enlightening.”

Kenny appreciated that his WGU faculty mentor was always quick to provide him with the resources and information he needed to complete the work, but was not pushy and never made him feel like his questions were irrelevant. He was able to tie previous work experience into his school assignments, and incorporate what he was learning in his program into his classroom lessons.

While completing his M.S. Educational Leadership degree, Kenny continued to teach at the middle school. After graduation, he was offered the position of department chair, and a year later became the school district administrator.

“WGU Nevada gives many Nevadans the opportunity to pursue a degree when attending a brick-and-mortar school is not an option,” Kenny said. “For those of us in Clark and Washoe counties, it is exactly what we need.”

Kenny’s degree from WGU has given him the qualifications and knowledge necessary to grow in school administration, and through a recommendation from his WGU master’s advisor, he is now the principal of Hafen Elementary School in Pahrump. The best perk of his job? “Giving high fives to my students,” says Kenny.

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