Chaparral Flinn Scholar Credits SUSD 2nd Grade Teacher for His Success
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (April 25, 2019) – It’s not every day that a call comes in and you’re offered a full-ride, scholarship to the Arizona university honors college of your choice - while you’re brushing your teeth in Switzerland. That is exactly how Chaparral High School senior Kyle Polen found out last month that he is a 2019 Flinn Scholar.
Polen was taking part in a spring break Scottsdale Sister Cities student exchange trip to Interlaken, Switzerland, when his cell phone rang one night. “My host family was asleep,” said Polen, 18, of Phoenix, “so I had to keep it kind of quiet, but it was great news.”
Polen and 19 other seniors, hailing from Tucson to Prescott, comprise this year’s Flinn Scholars class. The four-year, merit-based awards are valued at more than $120,000 each and cover tuition, fees, room and board at an Arizona public university, as well as two, summer study-abroad experiences. Polen will attend Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, in August, and be a part of the pre-med program.
Polen says he and other would-be Flinn applicants were told during an information session last year that no one ever expects to be named a Flinn Scholar. “I can definitely attest to that. It was a total surprise, but I’m thankful, and it’s just excellent.”
Polen is an SUSD product, from kindergarten through fifth grade at Sequoya Elementary School, sixth through eighth grades at Cocopah Middle School and ninth through 12th grade at Chaparral High School.
He credits Janet Lottman, his now-retired second grade teacher at Sequoya, with setting him up for success and recognizing how to motivate an admitted seven-year-old rascal. “I can’t really narrow it down to one thing. For one, I think, academic rigor was something I adopted as part of her class with basic things, like spelling tests and times tables. In addition to that, the extracurricular activities – theater and public speaking – for me, were invaluable.”
Lottman made such an impression on Polen back then that he has named her as the educator who, to this point, has had the most influence on him. She will join Polen’s parents and him at a Flinn Scholars celebration luncheon May 4 at Paradise Valley Country Club.
For her part, Lottman is delighted to have had an impact on her student 10-years ago. “I am so proud and so honored to know that in second grade, this guy, with a twinkle in his eye, and a little mischievous, I might say, that he has achieved so much,” she said. “This award is the tops. I am just delighted.”
Remarkably, Polen is the third Flinn Scholar to have been a student of Lottman’s.
“I’ve had nothing but great experiences from all the teachers and faculty who have helped me get here,” Polen told the SUSD Governing Board last week, “so for that, I would just like to say thank you. I’m looking forward to the next step, representing SUSD at Barrett in the fall as a Flinn Scholar.”
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About the Scottsdale Unified School District
With more than 23,000 students in 29 schools, the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) has been a premier choice for Pre-K through grade 12 public education for more than 120 years. Located northeast of metropolitan Phoenix, the District serves the educational needs of students and families in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, Tempe and Scottsdale. A highly experienced, professionally certified teaching staff fosters a diverse and rigorous educational environment to develop the potential in every individual learner. Offering gifted learning, special education, career and technical education, and a variety of athletics, arts and enrichment programs and clubs, SUSD provides the rich environment today’s students need to explore their interests, develop important social skills and grow into tomorrow’s leaders. For more information, visit www.susd.org and follow along on social media: Facebook: @ScottsdaleUSD, Twitter: @ScottsdaleUSD,Instagram: @ScottsdaleUnifiedSD, Nextdoor, LinkedIn and YouTube.