When she sees students struggle, Andrea McKenna identifies with their frustration. A daughter of migrant workers and a former English Language Learner (ELL), McKenna is a first-generation college graduate whose studiousness and intelligence helped her become the stellar educator she is today.
Lauded by peers as a “warm demander” and a “tirelessly hard worker,” McKenna encourages the toughest students to achieve by employing educational practices like collaborative groups, technology, student interaction and individual data to plan her lessons.
In 2010, she had 72 ELL students. Of those, 97 percent showed growth on their literacy scale scores. Sixty-one percent moved up a proficiency level. (Of those 44, 42 jumped from basic to proficient, and two rose from proficient to advanced.) In 2007, grade 6 literacy scores indicated 46 percent proficient; 2009, 51 percent; and 2010, 64 percent. As for grade 7, in 2007, 52 percent were proficient; 2009, 57 percent; 2010, 68 percent. Grade 6 Limited English Proficient (LEP) students upped their proficiency by 30 percent in three years; grade 7 LEP students jumped by 26 percent.
As English department chair, McKenna holds membership on the Arkansas State Textbook Adoption Committee for Language Arts, AR State ACTAAP Review Committee for Literacy, AR State ACTAAP Statistical Review Vertical Team Committee and many others. Little wonder she is described as "a lynchpin to all the great things that are happening at J.O. Kelly School."