Highlighting the Best of the Best

Highlighting the Best of the Best

Excellence happens each and every day inside Xenia’s classrooms. This week, during National Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re honoring all of Xenia’s 316 teachers for the excellent work that they do in their classrooms day in and day out as they continuously strive to increase student achievement. 

We salute their selfless dedication to the teaching profession and the important role they play in the lives of Xenia’s children. 
The following eight teachers are being recognized as the Best of the Best from Xenia Community Schools. They stand apart in their ability to develop positive relationships with their students, for being kind and compassionate, and for their ability to engage students in learning. 


Jennifer Benton, Xenia Preschool 
jennifer benton headshotBecoming a teacher was an easy decision for Jennifer Benton, because her parents were both teachers, and from an early age she helped them with the work they brought home – from helping her mom cut out lamination to helping her dad grade papers. 

She is finishing her fifth year teaching in Xenia. Prior to teaching here she taught in Dayton for nine years. She was an intervention specialist and taught grades kindergarten through eighth grade. 

She was drawn to Xenia for the opportunity to teach preschool. 

“When I learned about the exemplary program and all of the services offered to students at the Preschool, I knew I had found my dream job,” she said. 

As a preschool teacher, she cherishes the opportunities she has to watch students grow in their first years of school. 

“Seeing the excitement on my students’ faces as they learn new skills is the best part of my job. Xenia’s students are eager to learn, intelligent, and lots of fun,” she said. 

Her passion for teaching stands out, said Jennifer Statzer, Principal. 

“Ms. Benton goes to great lengths every day to make sure the educational, physical and mental needs of her students are met. Her passion for teaching and her desire for student success creates a climate and culture that is encouraging and differentiated,” said Mrs. Statzer. 

Annmarie Evans, Arrowood Elementary
annamarie evans headshoFor 10 years Annmarie Evans has taught first grade at Arrowood Elementary. Next year she will teach kindergarten. 

She is a member of the school’s building leadership team. 

Travis Yost, Principal, said Ms. Evans is “completely student-centered.” 

“She is a team player and leads by example. Her positive attitude and ability to problem solve are exemplary,” Mr. Yost said.

She wanted to become a teacher because she enjoys the learning process. 

“It is a sweet moment when a student grasps what is taught and their faces show it,” she said. 

When her children attended Simon Kenton years ago she helped out as a volunteer. She liked what she saw and knew she wanted to be a part of it. 

“I wanted to be a part of a district that puts students first and supports their teachers,” she said. 

She began teaching at Simon Kenton and then moved to Arrowood when the new elementary school opened. 

She really enjoys seeing her former students when they return to visit. 

“What I love about my students, past and present, is their willingness to try, even when something might be a challenge. I enjoy seeing how much my former students have changed, and how they have grown not only in size, but also as people,” she said.

LaShann Latimer, Cox Elementary 
lashann latimer headshotLaShann Latimer is a 28-year veteran teacher. She teaches fifth grade at Cox Elementary. She has taught in Xenia for her entire career, beginning with student-teaching at McKinley Elementary. She has taught second and third grades, and Title One. 

Ms. Latimer loved and respected her teachers growing up, and knew that she wanted to become a teacher to have the same ability to make a positive difference in students’ lives, the same way that she was positively influenced growing up. 

“I wanted to work in a community where everyone supported and helped each other, through good and bad times. I also wanted to make a change for the African American students in Xenia. I wanted to represent a positive force in their lives,” she said.

Lisa Peterson, Principal, said what makes Ms. Latimer special is the time she takes to build positive relationships with not only students, but with staff and parents. 

“She is a dedicated teacher and believes in her students’ success by taking extra time out of her busy schedule to encourage shining star behavior,” Ms. Peterson said. 

Ms. Latimer enjoys seeing her students succeed, and believes in each and every one of them.

 “I know that all kids can be taught. Our students possess amazing potential to be anything they would like to be. Our students are very smart academically, through the arts, and we also have amazing athletes,” she said. “For some students, we are the only positive and constant thing in their lives. So while they are with us, we need to show them love, empathy, and compassion, and treat them the way we would want to be treated.” 

Denise Garrett, McKinley Elementary 
denise garrett headshotDenise Garrett has taught 22 of her 28 years in Xenia. She began her career at St. Brigid School before coming to Xenia and teaching at Tecumseh and Arrowood, then coming to McKinley Elementary. She currently teaches fifth grade language arts. 

Garry Hawes, Principal, said Ms. Garrett is a dedicated teacher who works tirelessly.

“She goes out of her way to help her students - giving them supplies, food, helping them after or before school with work, or simply by giving a hug and an encouraging word,” he said.

Ms. Garrett’s greatest joy is being able to work alongside her former students - three of her former students have become teachers who work in Xenia now. 

She serves as the Resident Educator Coordinator and is currently mentoring one of her former kindergarten students, who is a kindergarten readiness teacher in the district.

Books have always been an important part of Ms. Garrett’s life. As a teacher, she has the opportunity every day to share her joy of reading with students and instill in them a life-long love of reading. 

“With this year’s fifth graders at McKinley, I have had the chance to be their teacher three times. I was a first grade teacher for some, their fourth grade science and social studies teacher last year, and now their fifth grade language arts teacher,” she said. “I was center stage as many learned how to read in first grade and saw them mature into critical and reflective readers. I witnessed their triumphs and watched many persevere through life’s difficulties.” 

Kevin Keefe, Xenia High School
kevin keefe headshotKevin Keefe is being recognized for his unwavering investment in Xenia’s youth during his 19 year teaching career. He teaches science at Xenia High and he is the faculty advisor for the school’s Gamers Club which is one of the most popular clubs at the school. 

“Mr. Keefe goes above and beyond for his students. He creates fun and exciting lessons in his biology classes and in Gamer’s Club offers a safe and fun space for any and all students,” said Joe Bachman, Dean of Students. 

Mr. Keefe didn’t envision himself as a teacher at first – his first major in college was research microbiology. 

“Luckily, I found out early on that I wasn’t a good fit for the science lab environment,” he said. “I had high grades in all of my classes, but I just couldn’t hack the solitude and sterile nature of it all. After some soul-searching during my junior year of college, and honoring some of the stellar teachers I’d had over the years, I felt that I could make the biggest impact by spreading my passion for science and learning to the next generation.”

He enjoys watching his students unlock their potential and mature through their high school years and after graduation. 

“I’ve often said that teaching is so much more than just filling kids’ heads with facts. It’s about forming relationships. There are past graduates from my marching band years and from Gamers Club that have become more like family to me than simply former students. I’ve been to college graduations, weddings, open houses, baby showers, birthday parties, and housewarmings, and I treasure all these moments that I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t a teacher,” he said. 

Christina Lane, Shawnee Elementary
christina lane headshotChristina Lane is a third grade teacher at Shawnee Elementary. This is her fourth year teaching in Xenia, the first 12 years of her career were spent teaching in Dayton. 

It was always her goal to teach in Xenia: it’s where she grew up and she loves being able to teach the children of the students she went to school with at Xenia High. 

“Being a teacher in my hometown allows for great student-parent-teacher relationships,” she said. 

She was inspired by her mom to become a teacher. Her mom worked in childcare for over 35 years and she grew up watching her teach and nurture children. 

She loved going to school and still remembers all of her elementary school teachers, and enjoys catching up with them when she sees them around town. 

“Completing my student teaching in Xenia and working with Mrs. Moore was the best experience an aspiring teacher could have. She was such a great role model and I knew this was what I was meant to do with my life,” she said. “The strong sense of community and hard work really impressed me and I knew I wanted to be a part of this district.”

Principal Scott Poole said in Ms. Lane’s class, students are pushed to excel and to do their best. 

“She goes above and beyond for her students on a daily basis,” he said. “Her classroom is exciting and engaging.” 

Her students work hard and she loves seeing their many talents shine both inside the classroom as well as in the sports and activities they do outside of school. 

“The little notes, pictures, and gifts students leave on my desk are always treasured,” she said.

Amanda Frauman, Tecumseh Elementary
amanda frauman headshotWhen Amanda Frauman was a young child, she took extra worksheets home from elementary and played school with the kids her mom babysat. “I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember,” she said.

She is finishing her 13th year teaching in Xenia. She has been at Tecumseh Elementary for four years; her first three years she taught first grade and this year she taught second grade. Before that, she taught at Cox Elementary and spent time in third, second and first grades. 

“I like working in Xenia because it’s where I grew up,” she said. “It’s my home and I love the small town feeling. I wanted to work here to be a part of the school district that taught me. I was so fortunate to have so many amazing teachers who really inspired and pushed me.” 

At Tecumseh, she has been instrumental in supporting strategies for students who struggle with behaviors in the classroom. She pursues training opportunities during her summer breaks and brings her knowledge back to school to share with her colleagues. It is this collaborative spirit that sets Ms. Frauman apart. 

“She has worked with multiple teachers and grade levels to start our Lending Library, create room transformations, and increase literacy instruction within her classroom. She is a very talented teacher, who serves as a great resource for her colleagues,” said Cathryn Rice, Principal. 

 Ms. Frauman believes in Xenia’s scholars. 

“They really put in the extra work. They push themselves to overcome any obstacles and to succeed at all they do.”

Alyssa Summerville, Warner Middle
a summerville headshotAlyssa Summerville is an advocate for students with special needs. She quietly leads by example and effort, always showing professionalism, and her perspective is greatly valued at Warner Middle, where she has taught for five years as an Intervention Specialist. She has developed ideas and strategies to solve issues and address student needs. 

“Ms. Summerville was part of a core group of teachers who came up with the idea for a class to support specially designed instruction for students on an individual education plan,” said Ted Holop, Principal. “She is a listener and rarely counters others’ thoughts, but works with them to shape change.” 

She decided to become a teacher because of her younger brother, Jordan, who has autism. Working with his teacher’s over the years inspired her to want to make a difference in the education and lives of families with differently-abled children. 

Ms. Summerville is a graduate of Xenia High and wanted to give back to the school system that she grew up in. 

“I especially wanted to be a role model for students of color in this district,” she said. “It was important to me that they see someone who looks like them in an education setting. Hopefully seeing themselves represented will encourage them to go to college and become successful, contributing members of their community.” 

She takes great pride in witnessing her students discover just how capable they are. 

“Many students in this district face obstacles that seem insurmountable, but they still show up every day and persevere. That’s the moment when they realize that they can do this, and they will have success,” she said. 

Click here to download the one-page feature in the Xenia Gazette, published May 8, 2019. 
gazette teacher appreciation article 2019

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