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Alumni Spotlight: Kay (Koepsel) Benning

Kay BenningBrookfield East Class of 1982

Kay Benning is a proud Brookfield East graduate who has been giving back to the Elmbrook Community for nearly 30 years!

Kay started her educational journey at Dixon Elementary and went on to Burleigh Junior High before attending Brookfield East High School. While at East, she was heavily involved in marching and symphonic bands, and participated in cheerleading, golf, student council, Key Club, and Charm & Modeling Club. Kay also served as headline editor for the Spartan Banner, and was the student representative to the Board of Education. During the summer of her junior year, she participated in the American Field Service Intercultural Immersion program and spent 3 months living with a family in Austria.

"My Elmbrook education instilled me with a passion for learning and serving others in many different ways," said Benning. "I appreciate how at every turn there was encouragement and inspiration to pursue more opportunities to learn, lead, and serve. We were equipped to go out into the world and do our very best to make a positive impact." Kay highlighted her Biology teacher Darrell Hagman, Principal Jerry Stern, and German teacher Herr Twelmeyer for their continuous support and challenging coursework that allowed her to gain important skills for college and life.

Additionally, Kay recognized her extraordinary art teacher, Polly Joubert, whose attentiveness and thoughtfulness helped foster Kay's creativity and teach her a number of valuable life lessons. "She was one of the most kind and thoughtful people I have ever met," noted Benning. "She personifies the quote 'people don't remember what you said, they remember how you made them feel' because she truly cared about her students."

Following her graduation from BEHS in 1982, Kay attended the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. While enrolled at UWEC, she ran for the Women's Cross Country Team, was a member of Mortar Board honor society, and served as President of the Alpha Lambda Delta - the Freshman Women's Honor Society.

Kay graduated from Eau Claire in 1986 with a degree in Elementary Education and minors in Business Administration and German. She took a job at Brookside Elementary in Medford, WI where she taught sixth graders in a single-section school. After a year, Kay left to teach first grade for the United States Department of Defense at Atterbury Elementary School in Frankfurt, Germany. After 2 years abroad, Kay returned to Wisconsin to teach third grade at Milwaukee Public School's 82nd Street German Immersion School. During the summer, she studied in Germany at the Goethe Institute through a scholarship provided by the German government.

In 1990, she came to Elmbrook and switched gears to work as a Librarian. Over the years, Kay was stationed at school libraries throughout the District. In 1993, she earned her Masters in Library Science from UW- Milwaukee, and she has served on the Brookfield Public Library Board of Trustees since 2003

In 2015, Kay became the Director of Library Services for Elmbrook. Through her work and strong community partnership with Boswell Books, she has brought best-selling authors and illustrators to schools around the District to speak to students and offer meet-and-greet signings for students and staff. Some of the authors include Captain Underpants author Dav Pilkey, Click, Clack, Moo author & illustrator duo Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, and The Day The Crayons Quit author Drew Daywalt!

In 2017, Benning was recognized as Elmbrook's Golden Apple recipient for Excellence in Leadership. Today, Kay remains in Brookfield and has five children - Sara, Jimmy, Jacob, Josh, and Tommy. "We made Brookfield our home so our children would have the same great opportunities available to them by attending Elmbrook," said Benning.

You can view additional information about previous and upcoming Elmbrook author visits here.

This Fall, Elmbrook is featuring alumni stories of staff members who have given back to the district through their service.

Join the new Elmbrook Alumni Network to engage with fellow alums at alumni.elmbrookschools.org!

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