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11-4-15 — District Considering Nine Educators as Nominees for Statewide Awards

Nov. 4, 2015 ~ A district committee has chosen nine highly qualified educators as semifinalists in two statewide award programs. The educators are being considered as district nominees for the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Award and the 2017 Emporia State University Master Teacher Award.

"As we have said before, with so many outstanding teachers in the Olathe School District, the selection of semifinalists for these awards is a very difficult task," Executive Director of Human Resources Mark O'Dell said. "The committee admires all of the nominees for the talent and dedication they bring to our students."

Elementary Kansas Teacher of the Year semifinalists: Jodi Berthelsen, third-grade teacher at Walnut Grove Elementary School; Maurica Bruning, general music teacher at Madison Place Elementary School; and Lisa Payne, early childhood special education teacher at Fairview Elementary School.

Secondary Kansas Teacher of the Year semifinalists: Jeff Witters, biology teacher at Olathe South High School; Nichole Worley, math teacher at Mission Trail Middle School; and Leah Yates, English Language Learning teacher at Indian Trail Middle School.

Emporia State University Master Teacher semifinalists: Kathy Arnold, family and consumer science teacher at Prairie Trail Middle School; Kevin Reeves, English teacher at Mission Trail; and Heather Smith, counselor at Heatherstone Elementary School.

District selection committees chose the semifinalists from applications representing each school and others working in classrooms. The Master Teacher Award nominees may include administrators, librarians, counselors and others in important roles who aren't assigned to a particular classroom.

"Being nominated by their colleagues to represent their school and the district coveys a high level of respect and support," O'Dell said.

The semifinalists will be videotaped in an interview and while teaching. The selection committee will meet Dec. 9 to select one district finalist for each of the three awards. The district finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year will submit an application to the Kansas State Department of Education in the spring. The district finalist for Emporia State University's Master Teacher award will complete a portfolio to submit next fall.

All building nominees will be honored at the district's Teacher Recognition Ceremony at 5 p.m. March 8 at Frontier Trail Middle School.