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Judith Kerrins

1942 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Judith Kerrins Obituary
DR. JUDITH A. KERRINS Dr. Judith A. Kerrins, teacher, learner, and inspiration for many, died on July 18th at her home in Butte Creek Canyon, from pancreatic cancer. She fought the disease with the determination and research that characterized her approach to all other important things in her life. After more than 20 months, she parted gracefully with her beloved puppies, The Muffkin (her cat), and family by her side. Born in Pontiac, Illinois on May 23, 1942, Judith was an only child of the boisterous Irish American Kerrins clan and the serious, studious Lewises of the Meriwether Lewis line of the family. She grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago , but cherished the time she spent with her beloved Grandfather, Ozro Lewis, who was the Warden at the Illinois Women's prison and at the Petit farm with her many cousins (Kerrins, Corrigans, Raboins, and Petit's). Her first school experience was at age five when she attended a one-room school house where her teacher, Miss Hockenberry, would serve as Judith's life-long model of what teachers can and should be. She graduated from Carl Sandburg High School (Orland Park , IL.) and received her BS from St. Xavier University (Chicago). It would be incorrect to say that Judith immediately wanted to be a teacher from the year she spent with Miss Hockenberry in that wonderful one-room school. Instead, she first headed to UNC Greensboro and enrolled in a creative writing MA program. But---she also began her teaching career that same year in order to earn money to pay her tuition. Judith first taught high school English, then a year later a combined 3rd and 4th grade class of students at the end of the hallway (the only space available) just as desegregation was beginning in the south. That experience cemented her passion for teaching and her commitment to high quality instruction for ALL students. The following year she returned to Illinois, teaching 4th and 5th grade in Zion, Illinois for several years before moving to Alamosa, Colorado to earn an MA degree in Guidance and Counseling from Adams State College. She worked as a K-8 school counselor in the Colorado Springs area, obtained a school administrative credential, then worked as an elementary principal in western Colorado, and, then later as first the Assistant Superintendent and then the Superintendent of Schools in Woodland Park, a mountain community just outside of Colorado Springs. As Superintendent, she created staff development opportunities for teachers and administrators, emphasized the use of technology for instruction and learning, and encouraged principals to spend time in classrooms observing and supporting teaching and learning. During that time she also took courses at the University of Colorado, Boulder to obtain her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. In 1991 Judith joined the faculty at CSU, Chico, teaching primarily in the school administration and leadership program. Her high standards and authentic teaching practices (e.g., Communication Crisis Final) helped to ensure that CSU, Chico Administrative Credential graduates were well prepared for the demanding leadership work required in 21st century schools. Her emphasis on reflective practice ("What did you learn and how will you use it?") pushed students to become life-long learners. Family and friends are invited to funeral services on Monday, July 29th at 11 am at the Newman Center, 346 Cherry Street in Chico; Mass will be followed by a Celebration of Life ceremony and light lunch, also at the Newman Center. A scholarship is being set up in Judith's name at the district in Colorado where she served as superintendent. More information will be available about the scholarship in August; the family requests donations to that fund in lieu of flowers. Condolences may be sent on line at Brusiefh.com
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record on July 24, 2013
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