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Kasey Kahne back in Enumclaw classroom | NASCAR

Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne returned to town Thursday, specifically to visit Southwood Elementary and pay honor to a favorite former principal. Kahne, a fixture on the NASCAR scene, started his day by visiting with youngsters (above). Kahne also surprised former principal Jake Thomas and his daughter Jody Emerson with a trip to Alabama to watch a May race from the famed Talladega Superspeedway. The entire effort was part of the Farmers Insurance “Thank a Million Teachers” campaign.  - Photos by Kevin Hanson
Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne returned to town Thursday, specifically to visit Southwood Elementary and pay honor to a favorite former principal. Kahne, a fixture on the NASCAR scene, started his day by visiting with youngsters (above). Kahne also surprised former principal Jake Thomas and his daughter Jody Emerson with a trip to Alabama to watch a May race from the famed Talladega Superspeedway. The entire effort was part of the Farmers Insurance “Thank a Million Teachers” campaign.
— image credit: Photos by Kevin Hanson

Enumclaw native Kasey Kahne, a veteran driver on the NASCAR circuit and member of his home town’s Walk of Fame, took a step back in time Thursday.

Kahne sat on the stage at Southwood Elementary School, recalling how everything seems different from an adult perspective – the gym seems smaller and the distance to nearby soccer fields isn’t as great. He answered questions from his young audience and, before and after an all-school assembly, visited with students.

Kahne, who turns 34 next month and now resides in North Carolina, was in town to participate in the Farmers Insurance “Thank a Million Teachers” nationwide initiative.

Specifically, Kahne arrived at his childhood school to honor his former principal, Jake Thomas, and current Southwood teacher Jody Emerson, who happens to be Thomas’ daughter. During Thursday’s event, Kahne surprised the two by inviting them to be his guests at the May 4 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. At the famous race venue, they will get a behind-the-scenes look at Kahne’s race-day environment.

Kahne’s connection to the insurance giant is a professional one. He drives the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Group/Quaker State Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series.

Also during Thursday’s visit to Southwood, Farmers Insurance and the Kasey Kahne Foundation announced matching donations to the school that will create a “reading garden,” a manicured spot on school grounds where students will be able to sit quietly and read.

Farmers Insurance launched the “Thank a Million Teachers” program at the start of 2014 and, as of last week, had recognized nearly 300,000 teachers throughout the nation.

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