Common Ground’s Suzannah Holsenbeck (right) with Kjerstin Pugh, who won for her work with Co-Op After School.

NEW HAVEN >> City Interim Superintendent of School Reginald Mayo said the T.A.P.S. Awards is one of the most purely good parts of a school year.

“This is a great, festive occasion,” he said. “There is nothing bad about this. All of you are part of that village and have played extremely important roles in our success over the years.”

The T.A.P.S. Awards, a tradition that predates Mayo’s own tenure as chief of the public schools for more than two decades, honors exemplary Teachers, Administrators, Parents/community Partners, and Support staff in the district.

Laura Bower-Phipps, a Southern Connecticut State University professor who has worked in collaboration with King/Robinson students, was honored for making an impact on students. Kjerstin Pugh, who offers after-school programming at Co-op, was honored for being a warm and safe mentor for students. Suzannah Holsenbeck, the schoolyards program manager with local charter school Common Ground School, was honored for her assistance in coordinating projects at various schools in the city to add eco-friendly green spaces in schoolyards. Benitez said the schoolyard habitat at Columbus Family Academy was one of her biggest accomplishments during her tenure as principal because it “utilized the natural environment and leveled the playing field so all students can think of themselves as scientists, innovators, problem solvers” and artists, she said.

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