by Bob Hart
LENEXA — With apologies to Thomas Wolfe and a nod of the head to Jon Bon Jovi, clearly, you can go home again.
Just ask Amanda Applebee and Caitlyn Allen, two graduates of Holy Trinity School in Lenexa who are making their way back to home turf this fall, as kindergarten teachers for their grade school alma mater.
Applebee, who graduated from Holy Trinity School in 1994, and Allen, class of ’99, emerged at the top of the heap among applicants for the two positions, their hiring coinciding with the school’s shift to an all-day kindergarten.
“The first thing I look for is their character,” said Martha Concannon, Holy Trinity principal, of the interview process for new teachers. “With these two, it just oozed from their pores. And their love for this community was very evident.”
That’s part of the reason they’ll be joining the Holy Trinity teacher lineup — 42 full time; 15 part time — for the 2010-11 school year.
“I’m excited. It’s so wonderful to work with kids at that level,” said Applebee.
“They come in as babies and they leave as readers,” she said. “The growth you see is amazing.”
Both young women know a thing or two about growth from their family lives as well. Applebee has two little boys; Allen has a boy, a girl and a baby on the way.
Applebee said she hopes to instill “an honest love of learning” in her own children as well as her students, adding that it was Holy Trinity School, in large part, that instilled that love in her.
Minor adjustments for both will include learning to call their former teachers — now colleagues — by their first names, they said.
Both women graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park. Applebee earned her teaching credentials (including a master’s degree) from Kansas State University, while Allen got hers at Pittsburgh State University.
Although she previously taught 7th-grade math and coached volleyball, track and softball, “I always knew kindergarten was where I wanted to be,” said Applebee.
Allen, who logged a lot of time working in her mother’s day care business in her earlier years, summed up the appeal of the little ones this way.
“It’s their love for everything. Their energy. Their excitement,” she said. “It’s the greatest.”