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Spotlight Shines On Danbury Music Teacher Honored As Mentor Of The Year

Darla Shaw prepares to present Skip Jennings with his award. Photo Credit: Nicole Kasseris
Skip Jennings conducts a choir of his fourth-grade students from Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School. Photo Credit: Nicole Kasseris
Skip Jennings is honored as Mentor of the Year at Western Connecticut State University. Photo Credit: Nicole Kasseris

DANBURY, Conn. – Alfred "Skip" Jennings, a music teacher from Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School in Danbury, usually puts his students in the spotlight. But last week, Jennings took center stage as he was honored as the Mentor of the Year at Western Connecticut State University.

The seventh annual award was presented to Jennings on Thursday before an audience of many of his students and their parents in the auditorium of WCSU’s Student Center.

Darla Shaw, an education professor at WCSU, opened the event, part of Women's History Month.

“He sees music in a very integrated way,” Shaw said of Jennings.

After the introduction, the Founder’s Hall Band played a song. They were followed by Jennings' fourth-grade students, who sang a custom-made song describing their experiences within his classes.

A video made by his former colleagues at South Street School was shown, with the faculty congratulating Jennings on his award.

“He is about music and the sharing,” said Kenneth Buescher, from Bridges of Hope and Peace. Jennings is involved with the group, a network of teachers and students who collaborate on creative projects that promote respect, understanding and cooperation.

Instead of being given a tradition plaque, Jennings was presented with frames for his completed works of art. His photographic work was also on display on the day of his recognition.

Jennings, who is well known around the community, comes from a sixth- or seventh-generation Danbury family known for owning and running Jennings Oil Co.  He has taught music at a number of elementary schools in Danbury, including Roberts Avenue, Park Avenue, South Street, Ellsworth Avenue, Shelter Rock and Mill Ridge.

Over the years, he has also helped students from Western Connecticut State University who are majoring in music and in elementary education.

Jennings has also been involved in many musical productions at Richter Park, the Brookfield Playhouse and the Sherman Playhouse, among others, over the past several years.

On April 9, Jennings and WCSU students will be developing a patriotic program by researching politicians and developing related questions.

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