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2020 Kansas Regional Teachers of the Year 


Kara E. Belew, 2020 Kansas Regional Teacher of the Year

Grades 11-12 Social Studies
Andover USD 385
Andover Central High School
603 E. Central
Andover, KS 67002

Email: Kara E. Belew
Phone: (316) 218-4700 

Kara E. Belew

A proud third-generation Kansas teacher, Kara E. Belew teaches social studies at Andover Central High School, Andover USD 385.

She graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1994. Belew earned her masters of arts in teaching in American history from Emporia State University in 2011. She is currently pursuing a doctor of education in educational leadership at Kansas State University.

Leadership education is a passion for Belew, who integrates the exercise of leadership into her teaching. Drawing inspiration from her high school juniors and seniors, Belew teaches U.S. history, U.S. government, AP U.S. government and politics as well as concurrent credit American federal government for Butler Community College. 

Professionally, she earned a James Madison Memorial Fellowship and VFW District 5 Teacher of the Year (2005), USD 261 Haysville Star Polisher Award (2007), and a Good Apple Award from USD 259 Wichita (2012).

Volunteering, Belew served on the board of the Junior League of Wichita; Kansas P.E.O. Sunflower Board of Trustees; director of Ambassadors, Staff and Programs for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership World Leadership Congress in Los Angeles; and was named Wichita Business Journal’s “40 under 40” for 2005. 

Spring of 2018, Belew unexpectedly gained an Italian host daughter who needed a welcoming home. 

She enjoys gardening, reading, travel, college football and family time. 

Belew credits her professional success to mentors who stood in the gap between life and potential for her through the years and her curiosity to learn.




Amy R. Hillman, 2020 Kansas Regional Teacher of the Year

Grades 6 and 8, Project-Based Learning, AIM
Olathe USD 233
Santa Fe Trail Middle School
1100 N. Ridgeview Rd.
Olathe, KS 66061

Email: Amy R. Hillman
Phone: (913) 780-7290

Amy R. Hillman

Amy Radaker Hillman grew up in a family of educators in western New York. 
After graduating from State University of New York at Fredonia with a bachelor of science degree in early childhood education, she headed to Augusta, Georgia, to teach fourth and fifth grade at Ursula Collins Elementary School. 
Next, she taught the children of soldiers at Fort Gordon, Georgia, at Freedom Park Elementary School.

When Amy’s husband accepted a job in Kansas City, their family of five relocated to Olathe, Kansas. She taught fifth and sixth grades at Washington Elementary School and then moved to Santa Fe Trail Middle School to teach science. 

Hillman earned her master of science degree at Emporia State University.
Currently, she teaches sixth-grade project-based learning, 21st century skill-building and eighth-grade AIM (Achieving through Individual Motivation) to future first-generation college students at Santa Fe Trail Middle School. 

Hillman also teaches for the International Academy of Science. As an Acellus science teacher with more than 400 instructional videos, she reaches students from all over the world. Thousands of students, from upper elementary through high school, have taken her coursework. 

Hillman is most excited that she is part of the Kansans Can Mercury 7 Redesign Project experience in Kansas. The teacher- and community-designed, student-driven ideas coming through this program are innovations that will increase equity in our community and give our students opportunities to become academically, civically and emotionally prepared Kansans. Santa Fe Trail Middle School’s vision is to “Empower All Learners to Explore,” and Hillman is overjoyed to be part of this project.



Shawn Hornung, 2020 Kansas Regional Teacher of the Year

Grades 9-12 Social Studies
Wamego USD 320
Wamego High School
1801 N. Lincoln St.
Wamego, KS 66547

Email: Shawn Hornung
Phone: (785) 456-2214

Shawn Hornung

Shawn Hornung is a high school social studies teacher with 17 years of teaching experience.  

Hornung graduated with a bachelor of science in sociology from Emporia State University and later earned his secondary social studies certification from Kansas State University.

He currently teaches Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. history, United States history and sociology for concurrent college credit at Wamego High School, Wamego USD 320.

Hornung was named a James Madison Memorial Foundation Fellow in 2011. One fellow per state is named annually, and Hornung was honored to represent his home state of Kansas. The graduate fellowship granted him the opportunity to earn his master of science in curriculum and instruction with emphasis on civic education from Kansas State University. 

Hornung is passionate about intergenerational and service-learning, as well as bringing history to life for his students. Keeping with his passions, he founded Kansas Honor Flight – Wamego High School and has coordinated the program for the past seven years. 

Hornung sponsors the Wamego chapter of the National Honor Society and is a Blood Program Leader for the American Red Cross.  

He serves his profession in many ways, including coaching Kagan cooperative learning for his school and acting as a table leader at the annual AP Exam reading. For his efforts inside the classroom and out, Hornung has been honored with the 2016 Wamego Area Chamber of Commerce Impact Award, named a Kansas Health Foundation Civic Health Hero in 2017 and was bestowed with the 2017 University of Kansas School of Education Wolfe Excellence in Teaching Award.



Stefanie M. Lane, 2020 Kansas Regional Teacher of the Year

Grade 4 Mathematics, English Language Arts
Clay County USD 379
Garfield Elementary School
815 4th St.
Clay Center, KS 67432

Email: Stefanie M. Lane
Phone: (785) 632-2125

Stefanie M. Lane

Stefanie Lane is a fourth-grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School in Clay Center, where she teaches mathematics, reading and writing. 

In her five years of teaching, Lane has taught all subject matters in both fourth and fifth grades in Clay County USD 379 and Blue Valley USD 229. 

Lane holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Kansas State University and a master of science degree in education administration from Fort Hays State University.

Lane is a passionate teacher who fosters relationships with students, parents, colleagues and community members. The time spent forging relationships with valuable stakeholders allows for a classroom culture that is inclusive and promotes an education that transcends the classroom. This style of education revolves around 21st century skills and stimulates hands-on learning and a passion for knowledge. Being a lifelong learner herself, Lane values educational opportunities that beget authentic investigation and learning. 

Although learning and growth are imperative to student success, Lane feels adamant about love being present within her classroom walls as well. Ideally, Lane wants her students to know love, love for an education, love for a day well spent and love for a thirst of learning. 

Her true “picture” as a professional educator can only be captured by personal, emotional and academic growth and success for all her students.



Julie Loevenstein, 2020 Kansas Regional Teacher of the Year

Grade 4
Basehor-Linwood USD 458
Glenwood Ridge Elementary School
17550 157th Ter.
(Mailing Address: 1008 N. 155th St.)
Basehor, KS 66007

Email: Julie Loevenstein
Phone: (913) 724-3536

Julie Loevenstein

Julie Loevenstein teaches fourth grade at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School in Basehor. 

She received her bachelor of science degree from Emporia State University. 

After graduating, she began teaching fourth grade in a rural community outside of Emporia. Upon moving to Kansas City, she taught in the North Kansas City District. When her family relocated to Virginia, Loevenstein became a stay-at-home mom, being active in her children’s schools. 

Gradually going back into teaching, she worked as a substitute and as a paraprofessional. These years were some of the most formative for her, as they served as a window to various teaching styles and the vital roles within a school. 

When she returned to full time teaching, Loevenstein taught second grade, valuing these years. Teaching second grade allowed her to have a greater understanding of the academic growth of a child and teacher impact at the primary level. 

Returning to Kansas in 2011, she began working in Basehor-Linwood USD 458. 

During her years as a teacher, she has witnessed many changes in education. However, she feels that in the midst of educational changes, her love of teaching, her desire to create a safe learning environment, and most of all, her desire to create a caring relationship with each student has never changed. Watching her classroom fill each day with students is her indescribable joy. 

She considers it an honor to be nominated for Kansas Teacher of the Year.



Lara K. McDonald, 2020 Kansas Regional Teacher of the Year

Auburn-Washburn USD 437
Washburn Rural Middle School
5620 SW 61st St.
Topeka, KS 66619

Email: Lara K. McDonald
Phone: (785) 339-4300

Lara K. McDonald

Lara McDonald pursued her teaching career at the ripe old age of 38. McDonald spent the years prior raising a family and working in high-end retail management. 

After the recession in 2008, she decided to take a leap that would make a difference in our world. Inspired by her husband who is an educator and his impact on student lives through teaching, she earned her bachelor of arts in English education from Washburn University. She is currently pursuing her masters in English with a focus in cultural studies at Emporia State University. 

McDonald teaches seventh-grade language arts at Washburn Rural Middle School in Topeka. Through her language arts class, McDonald is able to design lessons that promote cultural awareness and tolerance. 

She has taught workshops at the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) Impact Institute, helping guide teachers in creating classrooms that empower students to be tolerant and culturally aware. These workshops focus on culturally responsive teaching and how to engage students in community activism.

McDonald has taken several of her students to present at the KSDE Civic Engagement Conferences. The first conference was titled, Guided by a Cause, and the second, Suicide Prevention Measures and Conversations BEFORE a Crisis. This session focused on the Suicide Prevention Program that she and her students have implemented at Washburn Rural Middle School. 

McDonald sponsors the Washburn Rural Middle School Make a Difference Club and works hard to model her life’s mantra both inside and outside of the classroom: In the End, Only Kindness Matters.



Melissa K. Molteni, 2020 Kansas Regional Teacher of the Year

Grade 2
Shawnee Mission USD 512
Corinth Elementary School
8301 Mission Rd.
Shawnee Mission, KS 66206

Email: Melissa K. Molteni
Phone: (913) 993-2900

Melissa K. Molteni

Melissa Molteni is an elementary teacher who has spent 23 years working with kids and adults in her dream profession. She currently teaches second grade at Corinth Elementary School in Leawood, Shawnee Mission USD 512. 

Molteni has been a reading specialist and part-time adjunct assistant professor at the local community college. She has embraced teaching a range of grade levels from prekindergarten through fourth grade, discovering that each age group has its unique developmental gifts and challenges. 

Molteni believes all children deserve safe, high-quality programs. She feels strongly that establishing connections with students and healthy social relationships with their peers is essential before academics can be a priority. Through the lens of project-based learning, she encourages authentic projects and utilizes her school maker space to design meaningful science and technology lessons to engage students.

Molteni is a building mentor for new teachers. She is one of three trainers in her building developing staff competencies with Deep Equity and Inclusion training. She is passionate about her work on the Corinth Innovative committee. She belongs to numerous professional educational associations.
Molteni created a school-wide morning walking program to encourage kids to be active before school starts each day. 

Molteni earned a bachelor of science in elementary education. She holds a master’s degree in reading education and currently takes classes to better understand new brain research as it relates to dyslexia. Tufts University accepted Molteni into their fall 2019 online program for engineering.



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For more information about the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, please contact: 

Tamla Miller
(785) 296-4950

Communications and Recognition Programs Team Director

Denise Kahler
(785) 296-4876

Questions about this page contact:

Tamla Miller
(785) 296-4950

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