Champion of Children Recipients

The Kiwanis Club of Wellington created the Champion of Children Award in 2021 to honor a community member for their donation of time, talent or treasure to improve the lives of children in the Wellington community. The recipient may initiate a program or event that improves the lives of children by providing services needed or enjoyed by children. The club hopes to issue an award quarterly. Recipients receive an engraved Champion of Children Yeti mug, purchased from Farm and Home Hardware.

Champion of Children Award Criteria


  • Cathy Kurtz, K-Kids Advisor
  • Cindy Kodowski, K-Kids Advisor
  • Ayers Ratliff, K-Kids Advisor, Duke Pride Festival, Morris Furcron Peterson Nut Sale, Wellington School Board Member
  • Tina Drake, Wellington High School Principal
  • Karen Wright, Wellington High School Secretary

Karen Wright
Retired Wellington High School secretary Karen Wright was honored October 21, 2021 with the Wellington Kiwanis Club Champion of Children award. Wright retired in June after 30 years with Wellington Schools. She opted to retire
when Principal Tina Drake announced she was leaving to take a similar opportunity in Cincinnati. She said Drake was the 14th high school principal that she worked for her during career. She also noted there have been 15 different superintendents leading the district during her tenure. A graduate of Midview High, she was named an honorary alumni of Wellington High for her work with the Wellington Alumni Association. Her high school associates said she was very organized and she knew the many ins and outs of the school’s everyday operations. She was an advocate for Duke pride and traditions. She told the Kiwanians she considered working through the pandemic the last two years the most challenging period of her career. She said she worked closely with Drake to make sure there was a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020, which was held outdoors in the parking lot, followed by a parade through town following the graduation ceremony. “The problem we faced was it seemed every time we made plans, things changed because of the pandemic,” she said.

She trained many office aides, teaching them the importance of customer service, phone etiquette, filing and taking
and delivering messages in a timely manner. She said many students have returned and told her the soft skills they
learned in the high school office were skills they have come to value in their professional careers. Over the years, she has been invited to several weddings and baby showers of former office aides.