Teachers recognized for excellence

Barbara Mercer, seated, first grade teacher at Buffalo Jones Elementary School, flanked by Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Education Commissioner, and Dale Dennis, Deputy Education Commissioner.

Two USD 457 teachers were recognized Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Region 1 Kansas Teacher of the Year award ceremony in Salina. Barbara Mercer, first grade teacher at Buffalo Jones Elementary School, and Wendi Terpstra, English teacher at Garden City High School, were both nominated for the award, which recognizes excellent teaching in elementary and secondary classrooms across the state.

Each year, two district instructors are nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. The awards are sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education and affiliated with the National Teacher of the Year program. For 2018, nominations were sought in the spring and the district nominees were submitted to the state the first of May.

Nominations are made in each of four regions in the state. Region 1 covers the first U.S. congressional district in Kansas.

Wendi Terpstra, seated, English teacher at GCHS, flanked by Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Education Commissioner, and Dale Dennis, Deputy Education Commissioner.

The Kansas State Department of Education, sponsor of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, appoints regional selection panels comprised of teachers, education administrators, and higher education representatives to select semi-finalists and finalists from each region.

Gilbert “Gil” R. Still Jr., a fourth-grade teacher at Northwest Elementary School in Dodge City (Dodge City Unified School District 443), and Samantha “Sam” J. Neill, a high school English language arts teacher at Buhler High School (Buhler USD 313), were named Region 1 finalists for the 2018 Kansas Teacher of the Year award. This year, 111 educators across the state were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction.

The mission of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program is to build and utilize a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in school improvement, student performance and the teaching profession.

The Kansas Teacher of the Year team, comprised of the Teacher of the Year and state finalists, serve as ambassadors for education in Kansas, making public appearances across the state promoting education and the teaching profession.