2020 VIRTUAL KSDE ANNUAL CONFERENCE | NOVEMBER 20 | 9 a.m.
Superintendent, Buhler USD 313
2009 Kansas Teacher of the Year
Kansas Foundation in Excellence Awardee
Kansas State University College of Education Alumni Fellow
2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching National Finalist
2012 Lowell Milken Center Fellow
2014 National Teachers Hall of Fame Inductee
Couchman has broad educational experience, as a teacher and district administrator. July 1, 2020 she became superintendent for Buhler Public Schools. Prior to the past six years assistant superintendent for Buhler Public School, she taught mathematics at Buhler High School for 19 years.
Former Deputy Commissioner, Division of Fiscal and Administrative Services, KSDE
2020 Kansan of the Year
Dale M. Dennis dedicated 53 years of his life to Kansas education before his retirement from the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) in the fall of 2020. He started his career in education as a business teacher and principal in the 1960s. He started at KSDE in 1967 as the state school finance administrator. He became deputy commissioner in 1976. He served as interim commissioner of education on four occasions.
During his time at KSDE, Dennis supervised the administration of approximately $5 billion state and federal funds which flow through KSDE to unified school districts and nonpublic schools. He served as the liaison for the Kansas State Board of Education to the legislature and the governor, spending considerable time providing information necessary in the decision-making process in the area of education and more specifically school finance. Dennis supervised the preparation of the KSDE budget, as well as the auditing of all state and federal programs administered by the agency.
Dennis is highly regarded by teachers, school administrators, state policymakers, education advocates/organizations and the courts for his knowledge and expertise in the areas of school finance and administration.
Deputy Commissioner, Division of Learning Services, KSDE
As the deputy commissioner for learning services, Brad Neuenswander oversees KSDE’s departments of Teacher Education and Licensure, Career, Standards and Assessment Services, Research and Evaluation, Special Education Services and Title Programs and Services. The Division of Learning Services assists the State Board of Education in leading the world in the success of each student. Previously Brad served as KSDE’s director of school finance. Prior to joining KSDE in 2007, Neuenswander was the superintendent of USD 268 in Cheney for six years and the superintendent of USD 388 in Ellis for three years. He served as a high school principal in USD 331 Kingman, an assistant principal in USD 268 Cheney and as a business teacher in USD 211 Norton. Neuenswander has a bachelor’s degree in business from Baker University and earned his education certification from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan. He received a master’s in education administration from Kansas State University and a district administration certification from Wichita State University. He received his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Kansas State University in 2019.
Preschool Teacher, Winfield USD 465
2020 National Year of the Year
2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year
Tabatha, a 10-year veteran Kansas educator is the first early childhood educator to be National Teacher of the Year.
Tabatha, whose classroom is housed in Cumbernauld Village retirement community in Winfield, becomes the first early childhood educator to be named National Teacher of the Year. Cumbernauld Little Vikes intergenerational program serves special education and typically developing preschoolers, and offers students daily interactions with residents, who serve as “grandparent” volunteers.
Tabatha began her career as an early childhood teacher in 2010 at the Heartland Programs Head Start in Salina, Salina USD 305. She became an early childhood special education teacher at the Winfield Early Learning Center (WELC) in 2014.
Coordinator of Digital Literacy and Common Sense Media, Wichita Public Schools USD 259
2019 National Teacher Hall of Fame Inductee
2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year
Mrs. Smoke, as she’s known to her students, believes in a project-based, student-centered classroom that helps students build skills in communication, planning, research, and project implementation. Additionally, Dyane thrives on the mission to create active and engaging teacher professional learning opportunities. She wants her students and teachers to develop a love for innovation, communication, and technology, but also to understand how to use that love and passion to advance their own futures, as well as that of the global community.
Interim President, Wichita State University
1992 Kansas Superintendent of the Year
2001 Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame Inductee
2002 Governor’s Award presented by the Kansas State High School Activities Association
2002 Leadership Kansas Alumnus of the Year Award
2004 University of Kansas College of Education Distinguished Service Award
2005 Emporia State University Distinguished Alumni Award
Throughout his career, Dr. Tompkins served at all levels of public education, beginning as a high school English teacher in 1969 and continuing on to work as a high school principal and district superintendent. In 1994, he was hired by Pittsburg State University as Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Special Services and Leadership Studies. He then went on to serve as Interim Dean for the College of Education at Pittsburg State (1995-1996), a position he returned to as Dean from 2007-2010.
In 1996, Dr. Tompkins was asked to serve as the Commissioner of Education for the Kansas Department of Education, a role he continued in through 2005. Afterwards, he served as an Associate Professor at the University of Kansas, teaching in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, before returning to Pittsburg State.
Dr. Tompkins was selected as Kansas Superintendent of the Year in 1992, was inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame in 2001, and received the Governor’s Award presented by the Kansas State High School Activities Association in 2002. He was the recipient of the Leadership Kansas Alumnus of the Year Award (2002), received the University of Kansas College of Education Distinguished Service Award in 2004, and was given the Emporia State University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005. He earned his undergraduate degree in English at East Central State University in Ada, Oklahoma. He earned his master’s degree from Emporia State University and his doctorate from the University of Kansas in Educational Administration.
Kansas Commissioner of Education
Known for his visionary leadership, Dr. Randy Watson’s roots run deep in public education.
As a former history teacher, school principal and superintendent, Dr. Watson has dedicated more than 35 years of his life working in public education settings across the state and ensuring every child receives a world class education. That dedication continues in his current role as Kansas Commissioner of Education.
In his role as the state’s chief education officer, Dr. Watson provides leadership to the Kansas State Department of Education in carrying out the policies and programs set by the State Board of Education. Currently, Commissioner Watson is leading the agency in the redesign of Kansas public education. Fueled by the state board’s vision for education crafted in partnership with the citizens of Kansas, Watson is leading statewide initiatives designed to achieve this new vision that Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.
A native of Coffeyville Kansas, Dr. Watson attended Kansas State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in science in secondary administration, staff supervision and staff development, building level certification. Additionally, he received his doctorate of education in secondary administration, school law, curriculum development and instructional leadership, and district level certification.
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