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Two teachers named Region 4 finalists for 2025 Kansas Teacher of the Year


Announcement made during Saturday ceremony in Wichita.

WICHITA — Olivia Winegeart, a second-grade teacher at Paul B. Cooper Elementary School, Derby USD 260, and Erik Stone, a band and vocal music teacher at Gordon Parks Academy, Wichita USD 259, were named Region 4 finalists for the 2025 Kansas Teacher of the Year (KTOY) award during a ceremony on Saturday, April 6.

This award recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms in Kansas. The KTOY Region 4 awards banquet took place at the Wichita Marriott Hotel, 9100 Corporate Hills Drive, in Wichita.

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

Winegeart and Stone were among six KTOY semifinalists from Region 4, which covers the 4th U.S. congressional district.
Other Region 4 KTOY semifinalists were Jessica Denner, a kindergarten teacher at Blackmore Elementary School, El Dorado USD 490; Kimberly Lies, a third-grade teacher at Andale Elementary-Middle School, Renwick USD 267; Stanley Bergkamp, a science, chemistry, physics teacher at Maize Sr. High School, Maize USD 266; and Todd Hollis, an instrumental music teacher at Augusta Sr. High School, Augusta USD 402.

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. 

Nominations are made in each of the four regions in the state. The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), sponsor of the KTOY program, appoints regional selection panels comprised of teachers, education administrators and higher education representatives to select semifinalists and finalists from each region that are aligned with the state’s four congressional districts. 

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 6, 2024,
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