Kenagys honored at Topeka Public Schools Foundation 11th annual breakfast

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 8:57 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Ever since 2016, when they arrived in the capital city, Robert and Tammy Kenagy have supported Topeka Public Schools.

On Tuesday, the Kenagys were honored with the Patron Award at the Topeka Public Schools Foundation’s 11th annual community breakfast, which was held under a big tent this year at S.W. 6th Avenue and Tuffy Kellogg Drive, on the southeast edge of Erwin-Weaver Stadium at Hummer Sports Park.

The event attracted a crowd of around 200 supporters of Topeka Unified School District 501.

Attendees were required to wear face masks, have their temperatures checked upon arrival and maintain social distancing during the event. Hand sanitizer stations also were available.

Breakfasts were served in sealed trays that people took to their chairs, which were spaced about six feet apart.

Before the event began, the Kenagys discussed their support for the Topeka Public Schools.

“Tammy and I have been lifelong supporters of education,” Kenagy said. "When we came to Topeka, we immediately began to support the 501 district.

"It’s a passion that we’ve held for many years -- all of our married life -- to support public education.

“We’re involved as private individuals,” he added. "I believe every individual, every person in the community, should be involved supporting their public school.

“It is foundational to a just and civil society to have effective public education, to have the best experience for our kids -- to grow successful, contributing adults. And, beyond that, it’s just the right thing to do for our children.”

Kenagy added that people can still support their public schools, even during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously, it’s much more important during this time," he said. "It’s much more difficult to provide an effective experience for the children. And our contributions have to be tempered by our ability to do it safely.”

As for the award he and his wife received, Kenagy said, “We’re grateful and we’re humbled, and we again hope that it only inspires others to get involved and to give.”

Robert Kenagy is president and chief executive officer at Stormont Vail Health. Tammy Kenagy’s education career spans 35 years.

The Kenagys have lent their support to the Topeka Public Schools Foundation by helping it promote the vision of providing private funding to improve public education.

“All boats rise when we invest in our kids,” Tammy Kenagy said. “They’re our future. We need them to be great citizens.”

Pamela Johnson-Betts, the foundation’s executive director, said the organization looks to recognize public education trailblazer supporters each year.

Johnson-Betts said the foundation is composed of a 17-member board whose members serve as “ambassadors” for Topeka Public Schools.

The foundation’s board raises private funds to support public education “to allow our students the opportunities that are above and beyond what any kind of state allocation could give.”

Johnson-Betts said the annual breakfast is designed to show appreciation for teachers in the Topeka Public Schools.

“What we hope were able to do today is celebrate teachers, who are our heroes,” Johnson-Betts said. “We figured that out during the pandemic. And every year, the Topeka Public Schools Foundation recognizes teachers, but this year we’re even going to be able to give two exceptional teachers a monetary award.”

The two teachers who were on hand to receive their awards were Ben Esau, a computers teacher at Jardine Middle School, and John Eddy, a science, technology, engineering and mathematics teacher at McEachron Elementary School.

Also Topeka Unified School District Superintendent Tiffany Anderson was to present the “State of the District” address during the breakfast.

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