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2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year team honored at Statehouse

2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year team honored at Statehouse

Skinner presented keys to new vehicle

Eight of the top educators in Kansas came to Topeka earlier this week to be recognized by the Kansas House and Senate, learn from education leaders and present at a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees. 

The 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year team spent three days in the Capital City for the annual Legislative Conference, which is hosted by the Kansas State Department of Education’s Communications and Recognition Programs (CRP) team. 

This year’s team is led by Brian Skinner, who was named the 2023 Kansas Teacher of the year in September. Skinner is a special education teacher at Newton High School, Newton Unified School District 373. 

“I thought it went really well,” Skinner said about the conference. 

The rest of the 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year team members are Kendal Norberg, Louisburg USD 416; Erica Huggard, Emporia USD 253; Mallory Keefe, Cheney USD 268; Jessica Gazzano, Spring Hill USD 230; Jaimie Swindler, Ottawa USD 290; Pamela Munoz, Topeka USD 501; and Carly Torres, Hutchinson USD 308. 

At 1 p.m. Monday, members of the CRP team welcomed the 2023 team to the Landon State Office Building. Next, members of the Kansas Teacher of the Year team visited with Bilee Grable, principal of Piper High School, Piper Unified School District 203; Joshua Snyder, principal of Seaman Middle School, Seaman USD 345; and Dr. Brent Wolf, principal of Derby Hills Elementary School, Derby USD 260. 

Later in the afternoon, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson spent more than an hour getting to know the new team and discussing the major education issues in Kansas. 

Leah Fliter, assistant executive director of advocacy and governmental relations at the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), helped prepare the team members for their visit to the Legislature by discussing what they need to know about the House and Senate Education Committees and what major education issues are being considered by the legislative education committees this session.  

Tuesday's agenda kicked off with a conversation with Superintendents Dr. Mike Argabright, Southern Lyon County USD 252; Tim Hallacy, Shawnee Heights USD 450; and Renee Nugent, Atchison USD 409. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Skinner was presented with keys to a 2022 Nissan Altima during a special ceremony on the south side of the Statehouse. Skinner will be able to use the car, which is provided through a grant from Enterprise Holdings Foundation, for six months as he travels the state giving presentations. 

As is tradition, all members of the Kansas Teacher of the Year team piled into Skinner’s new vehicle to see if they could fit. They fit but didn’t drive anywhere. 

Wednesday was spent at the Statehouse as all eight members were recognized and honored by the House and Senate. In the afternoon, the team members gave two- to three-minute presentations at the joint committee members. 

Skinner said that the team members were “very uncertain” about talking in front of legislators. However, after hearing from principals, superintendents and other education leaders and spending time writing and practicing their presentations, everyone seemed relaxed and enjoyed the experience. 

“I see that as a good testament to the conference,” Skinner said. 

The 2023 team’s vision is – Education is what we make it. 

“We all work collectively as a team,” Skinner said. “Our passions aligned. We just meshed and clicked. We work really well together.” 

The 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year team will travel the state throughout the year giving a four-part presentation, which includes an opening, discussion on diversity, bringing joy into the classroom and inspiring confidence and self-belief in students. 

Posted: Jan 26, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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