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Port High mourns sudden death of beloved, long-time teacher PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 18:53

School year starts with sadness after loss of educator who inspired students and colleagues alike

The first regular day of classes at Port Washington High School was supposed to be filled with excitement.
    Instead there was sadness Monday as students and staff members gathered in the school auditorium to remember social studies teacher Kelly Green, who during a career that spanned more than three decades was admired for his ability to relate to and inspire students and colleagues alike.
    Mr. Green, who was beginning his 31st year of teaching in the Port Washington-Saukville School District, died Saturday, Sept. 2, at his Town of Grafton home of what his daughter Alissa Nyland and colleagues said was a recently diagnosed rare medical condition. He was 58.
    Mr. Green had worked at Port High longer than any other current full-time teacher, administrators said.
  GUY LG  “Obviously this is a different kind of day than we had planned for the start of school,” Principal Eric Burke told students and staff members, many of them wearing green in honor of Mr. Green, gathered in the auditorium. “When I heard that Mr. Green had passed away this weekend, I was shocked.
    “If you knew Mr. Green, you know that he cared deeply about you and about this school.”
    Mr. Green’s success as a teacher stemmed from his natural ability to understand and empathize with teenagers, whether they excelled or struggled academically, or whether they were engaged in school or found it difficult to fit in, his colleagues said.
    “He had a real knack for being able to help kids who needed it the most,” Mr. Burke said. “His ability to build relationships with students and support all kids was amazing.”
    Port Washington-Saukville School Supt. Michael Weber said that as Mr. Green matured in his profession, growing from a new teacher into veteran educator, he never lost his ability or desire to connect with his students.
    “When you first start teaching, you’re fairly close in age to your students, but as the years go by you get further and further removed from the generations of kids you’re teaching,” he said. “Kelly had a natural knack of connecting with all the generations of students he taught.”
    Mr. Green’s teaching style wasn’t always textbook, and that was one of his charms, social studies teacher Brian Borley said.
    “If it wasn’t school appropriate, it was Kelly Green,” he said, referring to jokes told by his colleague.
    But there was never any doubt where  Mr. Green’s heart lied, Mr. Borley said.
    “He was love — love for his family, love for his colleagues and friends and love for his students,” he said.
    Noting that his mother was a student of Mr. Green’s, senior Alex Kanios said his excitement upon receiving his class schedule last month and seeing his former teacher Mr. Green was to be his study hall supervisor was dashed by news of his death.
    “I was heartbroken because we shared many laughs and many lessons,” he said. “He was a great teacher and a great man.”
    Teaching was more than a profession to Mr. Green, his daughter Alissa Nyland said.
    “It was his true calling,” she said. “He was amazing with kids. When he would help with my homework and I didn’t get it, he would find another way to teach it to me until I understood it perfectly.”
    Mr. Green was also involved with students outside the classroom as a basketball, cross-country, track and field and wrestling coach. An avid golfer himself, Mr. Green could walk an 18-hole course in record time, Mr. Burke said.
    Mr. Green was also a mock trial adviser.
    To his co-workers, Mr. Green was a leader, mentor and advocate who was the longtime chairman of the social studies department and held several leadership roles in the Port Washington-Saukville Education Association teachers union, including president.
    Retired Port High social studies teacher and former union official Deb Dassow remembers him as an articulate advocate for public education and teachers.
    “I think Kelly would say, and I agree, that one of the reasons you’re an advocate for teachers is because you’re an advocate for students,” she said.
    Mr. Green immersed himself in issues that affected teachers and education on local, state and regional levels, and in 1994 ran in a special election for state senator, finishing as runner up in the primary.
    “He was involved to the point where he was willing to knock on doors to get his message out in a very tough election,” Ms. Dassow said.
    As the union representative on a committee responsible for screening candidates for superintendent in 2000, Mr. Green was instrumental in the selection of Mr. Weber, whose hiring ushered in an era of cooperation in what was once an acrimonious relationship between teachers and the administration, Port High social studies teacher Nathan Ugoretz, past president of the union, said.
    “Kelly told me not long ago that when he was on the committee he fought for Mike Weber because he was authentic, not a salesman like some of the other candidates, and had a genuine interest in helping students,” he said.
    Mr. Green was born on Nov. 28, 1958, in Oshkosh, the son of Charles and Beverly Eileen Kentop Green II.
    In 1977, he graduated from Oshkosh West High School, where he lettered in track and wrestling. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983 and his teaching degree from UW-Oshkosh in 1985. In 1996, he earned a master’s degree from UW-Milwaukee.
    Mr. Green is survived by his wife Robin Nyland, daughters Alissa Nyland and Sofie Green, mother Beverly Green and siblings Holly (John) Davidson, Charlie Green and Robin (Dave) Grable.
    He is further survived by his mothers and fathers-in-law Adrienne and Paul Laubenstein and Michael and Lori Nyland, brother and sister-in-law Jorji and Steve Siegmundt and brother-in-law Chris Nyland.
    A gathering to remember Mr. Green will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, at Eernisse Funeral Home in Cedarburg. At 7 p.m., people are invited to share memories of Mr. Green.
    Memorials to a scholarship being established in honor of Mr. Green are appreciated.   

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