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10-27-22 — District Names Horizon Award Nominees

Oct. 27, 2022 ~ Kayleigh Large, early childhood teacher at Tomahawk Elementary School, and Denise Menjivar, Pioneer Trail Middle School Spanish teacher, are the 2023 Horizon Award nominees for Olathe Public Schools.

The Kansas Horizon Awards, which are sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education, recognize the exemplary work of teachers during their first year in the classroom. Next spring, the Kansas Department of Education will announce the state Horizon Award winners. Out of the nominations for the district, Large and Menjivar came out on top.

Large believes active participation and scaffolding are vital components to the instruction she provides her students. She assesses each student’s needs and reflects that in her teaching. Her classroom includes students with individual education plans, as well as peer models. According to her principal Julia Baucum, she sets up all students in her class for success.

“Working in an early childhood special education class is a high need, high energy and often high behavior setting. When you walk into Kayleigh’s room, you see and feel nothing but calm and acceptance,” Baucum said. “Whether it is a previous student, a current student, sibling, staff member or parent, anyone who has worked with Ms. Kayleigh would have only wonderful things to say about who she is and all that she does.”

Menjivar teaches both Spanish and Spanish for Heritage Speakers courses. She often utilizes reflection, think-pair-share, and peer instruction and mentoring in her teaching. She is all about building relationships with her students. Principal Scott Appell believes this is the key to her success as a teacher.

“Her Spanish class is constantly buzzing with excitement and student knowledge of the language and cultures of Spanish-speaking countries has improved immensely,” Appell said. “After one year in our building, we have had to turn students away from taking her class because so many students want to take her classes. Denise is the co-founder of our Student Diversity Advisory Council. This group meets weekly and plans awareness events, and creates a welcoming climate for all staff and students in our building.”

Both Large and Menjivar were surprised in their class with the news. Earlier this week, all Horizon Award nominees from Olathe schools were honored at a banquet. During the event, superintendent Dr. Brent Yeager noted that the future is bright for these Olathe educators.