The Newport Public Education Foundation (NPEF) has announced recipients of the annual Noreen Stonor Drexel Education Awards for 2017.

Each year awards are presented in three categories:  Friend of Education, Partner in Education, and Unsung Hero. The goal of the Newport Public Education Foundation is to help bridge the needs of students in our public schools with our community and this year’s award recipients play a vital role in making that happen.

Hank Kniskern

Hank Kniskern, has been selected to receive the 2017 Noreen Stonor Drexel Friend of Education Award.  Hank Kniskern recently led the facilitation of the Newport Public Schools One Newport Strategic Plan for 2017-2021.  Over the past eighteen months, he has thoroughly enmeshed himself into the issues and problems facing Newport Public Schools, and has become a strong advocate for the implementation of the strategic plan. Mr. Kniskern has been instrumental in helping to shape and produce a progressive and dynamic plan by speaking out on pertinent issues with the public, bringing together team leaders to help move the planning process forward, making sure all groups were on track, and preparing the final strategic plan package. Timely implementation of the strategic plan and building the One Newport community are vital to the success of the children and families of Newport for years to come, and Hank Kniskern’s efforts have contributed to a successful process.  In addition to his recent work on the Newport Public Schools Strategic Plan, Hank has recently served on several city boards and commissions, a past chairman of the Newport Harbor Commission, and a member of the City Council Finance Review Committee.  He is also active in the Newport Maritime Alliance and the Top of the Hill Neighborhood Association.  Mr. Kniskern has worked for the Grand Rapids Public Schools, AT&T and Bell Labs, the Navy War College and Roger Williams University. Hank Kniskern is truly a Friend of Education.

The Island Moving Company has been selected to receive the 2017 Noreen Stonor Drexel Partner in Education Award.  Celebrating its 35th year, the Island Moving Company has greatly enriched the lives of Newport Public School students . They have consistently invited our students to numerous performances (too many to mention), at great venues such as St. Georges School, Rough Point, Rosecliff, Chateau Sur Mer, Goat Island, Norman Bird Sanctuary, the Studio at Charles St, Opera House, Salve Regina University, Oliver Hazard Perry Tall Ship, and the Quaker Meeting House, as well as other venues throughout the island. These performances have always been free to our students. Our Newport Public School students have watched the Newport Nutcracker (previously called the Tin Soldier) annually for over 24 years.

The Island Moving Company has conducted multiple “creative movement” residencies (with a focus on character education and academic enrichment) at our schools for 18 years. IMC has supported an elementary troupe of between 6-15 students annually for over 7 years, at no cost to our students. This group of elementary students opened the year long 375th anniversary of Newport’s founding with a performance at Rosecliff. This group also performed for the prestigious Open For Dancing series at Pell School last year for an audience of almost 1400 people. Many of the dancers have served as mentors for our students. These scholarship students are now performing in the Nutcracker, Carnival of the Animals, and Mother Goose productions. The Island Moving Company has exposed our students to a multitude of enriching experiences, at no cost to our families and school community. They are truly a Partner in Education.

Christianne Fisher

The 2017 Noreen Stonor Drexel Unsung Hero Award will be presented to Christianne Fisher, who have been an integral part of Rogers High School not only as Assistant Principal for Teaching & Learning, but as Director of the Accelerated-Alternative Learning Program and as the NpS Meals Benefit Coordinator.

Keith Tavares, President of the Newport Public Education Foundation, stated that this year’s Noreen Stonor Drexel Award recipients represent what is great about our public schools and our community.  “They bridge our students with the resources needed to succeed.”

Awards will be presented at the Foundation’s annual benefit event, An Evening for Education, which will be held next Friday, June 2nd at 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Edward King House, 35 King Street, Newport, RI 02840.  Tickets can be purchased for $80.00 a couple or $45.00 for an individual online at and includes beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres donated by a large number of local community sponsors.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).