This blog post honors the life and legacy of Tom Kenning, who passed away while rescuing a 17-year-old girl from drowning in Lake Michigan in June.
A cherished member of the National Geographic community, Tom Kenning was a middle school social studies teacher at Plato Academy Pinellas Park in Pinellas Park, Florida, U.S., as well as a member of the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship.
Tom had a strong appreciation for geography education, environmental stewardship, and innovation. These traits made National Geographic an ideal place for him to engage in a field-based experience that would enable him to bring new geographic awareness to his students, empowering them to generate solutions for a healthier and more sustainable future. He cared deeply about the promise of young people, and every time he walked into a classroom he aimed to bring students fresh and memorable experiences. Tom’s selection as a Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Society 2020 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow was a testament to his meaningful contributions as an educator.
Clockwise from left: Tom draws while his daughter, Rory, watches; Tom teaches a lesson last year at Plato Academy Pinellas Park; Rory pets the family’s recently adopted cat, whom she named Triton Cheese Thomas Kenning, with a childhood photo of Tom and his cat on the window behind them (photos courtesy of Jasmine Kenning)
Jaynie Alexander, former senior manager of the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship program, wrote:
It was an honor and privilege to get to know Thomas, as his passion for serving and fun demeanor made every interaction a pleasure. I could only wish I had a teacher like him, and am so glad the students in our community got to experience a true master educator in their lifetime.
To support Tom’s family and the nonprofit organizations in which he believed, please visit the GoFundMe page set up in his memory.
Featured image: Tom poses with his wife, Jasmine (courtesy of Jasmine Kenning)