Two area teachers named finalists for Kansas Teacher of the Year
Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
TOPEKA—Sept. 18, 2011—Sherry L. Helus, a third-grade teacher at West Elementary School in Wamego (Wamego USD 320), and Michael C. Pickman, a tenth-grade language arts teacher at Prairie View High School in La Cygne (Prairie View USD 362), were named Region 2 finalists for the 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year award today.
The announcements were made during ceremonies at the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Topeka. As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Helus and Pickman each received a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, a major partner in the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. In addition, they are now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, an award that will be announced during ceremonies in Wichita on Nov. 19.
Helus and Pickman were among six Teacher of the Year semi-finalists from Region 2, which covers the second U.S. congressional district. Other semi-finalists were Patricia A. Ludwick, a first- and second-grade reading teacher at Cottonwood Elementary School in Paola (Paola USD 368); Diane Ball, a sixth-grade teacher at Westphalia Elementary School (Garnett USD 365); Stacie M. Borjon, a high school science teacher at Shawnee Heights High School in Tecumseh (Shawnee Heights USD 450); and Michelle Vielhauer, a twelfth-grade English teacher at Basehor-Linwood High School in Basehor (Basehor-Linwood USD 458). Each of the semi-finalists received a golden apple, compliments of The Master Teacher in Manhattan. Statewide, 106 educators were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction.
Nominations are made in each of four regions in the state. The Kansas State Department of Education, sponsor of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, appoints regional selection panels to select semi-finalists and finalists from each region. The selection panels are comprised of teachers, education administrators, and higher education representatives.
Each panel selects six semi-finalists, three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers. From those semi-finalists, the panel in each region then selects one elementary finalist and one secondary finalist. The Kansas Teacher of the Year is selected from among the regional finalists.
The individual selected as the Kansas Teacher of the Year is then eligible for national distinction as Teacher of the Year. The National Teacher of the Year program, sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with the University of Phoenix Foundation and People to People Ambassador Programs. The Kansas Teacher of the Year team, comprised of the Teacher of the Year and state finalists, travels the state advocating for education and the teaching profession.
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