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Two teachers named Region 2 finalists for 2025 Kansas Teacher of the Year


Announcement made during Sunday ceremony in Topeka.

TOPEKA — Benjamin Eckelberry, a first-grade teacher at Tecumseh North Elementary School, Shawnee Heights USD 450, and Elizabeth Anstine, a business teacher at Leavenworth Sr. High School, Leavenworth USD 453, were named Region 2 finalists for the 2025 Kansas Teacher of the Year (KTOY) award during a ceremony on Sunday, April 7.

This award recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms in Kansas. The KTOY Region 2 awards banquet took place at the Hotel Topeka at City Center, 1717 S.W. Topeka Blvd., in Topeka.

As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Eckelberry and Anstine each received a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, the major corporate partner for the KTOY program. In addition, they are each now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, which will be announced during a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 28, in Wichita.

Eckelberry and Anstine were among six KTOY semifinalists from Region 2, which covers the 2nd U.S. congressional district.

Other Region 2 KTOY semifinalists were Erin Scott, a first-grade teacher at Baldwin Elementary Center, Baldwin USD 348; Denise Thorpe, a third-grade teacher at Horton Elementary School, South Brown County USD 430; Diane Kimsey, a teaching as a profession pathway educator at Topeka High School, Topeka USD 501; and Susan Livingston, a social studies teacher at Emporia High School, Emporia USD 253.

Each of the semifinalists received a red marble apple with a wooden base, compliments of The Master Teacher in Manhattan.

This year, 120 educators across the state were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction.

Each panel selects six semifinalists - three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers. From those semifinalists, 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 state’s eight regional finalists.

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

Members of the KTOY team, comprised of the current Kansas Teacher of the Year and state finalists, serve as ambassadors for education in Kansas. They make public appearances across the state to promote education and the teaching profession.

The Kansas Teacher of the Year is eligible for selection as National Teacher of the Year, a program of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in partnership with the Voya Foundation.


Posted: Apr 7, 2024,
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