Gurney's Inn
December 05, 2007

Student Helps Teacher Win Big

Are you smarter than a kindergartner?

That's a question teacher Susan Kennedy may have been asking herself last week when her pint-sized pupil stepped up and saved the day.

Kennedy, a kindergarten teacher at Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School in Southampton, was thrilled last week when she got an early morning phone call her telling her she'd been chosen as that morning's trivia contestant on "Live With Regis And Kelly."

There was only one problem: Kennedy, a Hampton Bays resident, had a broken cable box and hadn't watched the show the day before – and therefore, wouldn't be prepared to answer the question.

"I've been convinced for two years that I was going to win," she said. "I DVR the show and watch the previous day's episode every morning while I'm working out."

The day before Kennedy got the call, she'd taken her DVR system back to Cablevision for repair. "It was the only day in two years I hadn't watched the program."

Viewers who enter "Live With Regis and Kelly" contests are asked to answer a trivia question based on the previous day's episode. Regis Philbin spins a prize wheel, and if the caller answers the question correctly, the viewer wins the prize. Last week, Kennedy was playing for a trip to Atlantis, a tropical resort located on Paradise Island in the Bahamas – the locale from which last week's "Live" shows were broadcast.

At first, when she got the call at 7:30 that morning, Kennedy thought it was a joke. "It was the first day in two years I wasn't able to watch the show from the day before. I was panicking the whole way to work."

Kennedy hurriedly did some research on the previous day's guests, the Jonas Brothers and Tim Gunn from "Project Runway," taking notes on all possible questions she might be asked.

Then, all 30 Catholic school students, and Kennedy's teaching assistant, Cathy Squires, joined her in a special prayer before the call came from the show.

Regis, who had been chatting with Kennedy about her job as a teacher, asked if she was in the classroom while she was speaking to him live on the air. She was, indeed, she told him – and praised her students for being so quiet.

When it was time to read the question, Regis told Kennedy it was one her students might be able to help her answer: "Who is appearing with the pop group the Jonas Brothers during their current tour?"

Kennedy, who didn't know the answer, quickly appealed to her class for help. Salvation came in the form of five-year-old Sarahann Quiros, who knew the magic words immediately: "Miley Cyrus," better known to scores of preteen fans as "Hannah Montana."

Kennedy said she has been teased for having Charlie Brown luck all her life – even receiving Charlie Brown gifts on holidays. "I've had Charlie Brown's bad luck cloud over my head but now it's clearing. Thanks to Sarahann, I won, anyway."

When she won the prize, Kelly Ripa cheered, and Kennedy's class was jubilant. "They were so cute – so thrilled." Kennedy, who has been teaching at OLH for 22 years, said staff, students, and parents offered congratulations and asked who she planned to take on the trip – she was still undecided.

Kennedy has wanted to go to Atlantis for years. "It's so unbelievable – I'm on cloud nine," she said.

Since the show aired, Kennedy said the phone at the school has been "ringing off the hook," with one Catholic school teacher from Massapequa even calling to wish her well.

After she won, many told Kennedy that they were happy that a hardworking and dedicated teacher, who tutors to supplement her income, had received the $8400 prize.

As for her prizewinning student, Kennedy said she plans to pay her back for supplying the right answer, including a present and a souvenir from the trip. "I owe her a big gift!" she said.

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