This month I had the privilege of attending the 2015 Kansas Teacher of the Year regional banquets, during which eight finalists vying for the prestigious award were announced. For those of you unfamiliar with the Teacher of the Year program, this is like the Academy Awards of the teaching profession. Each school district has the opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher whom they believe to be exceptional in the classroom.
During the awards banquets, I heard stories about each of the nominees and while each story was different, common themes emerged. All have a passion for helping kids learn, all believe that every child has the ability to learn beyond expectations, and all recognize that teaching is only as powerful as the relationships they build with each child. These are the teachers who open their classrooms and their hearts to any child in need, knowing that even the smallest of gestures can make the greatest impact on a child that is struggling.
I read a quote once that said,
“Real teachers hear the heartbeats of a crisis; always have time to listen; know they teach students, not subjects; and are absolutely non-expendable.”
I see these qualities in so many of our Kansas teachers, which makes me proud to know Kansas’ educational system is built on a foundation that supports the idea that relationships matter. When students feel a connection with a teacher, the sky is the limit to what they can accomplish."
I extend my congratulations to each of the 2015 finalists and semifinalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, as well as my thanks to every teacher in Kansas who truly understands that relationships matter. Our children deserve nothing less.
Meet the 2015 Kansas Teacher of the Year finalists
Kansas Commissioner of Education