WICHITA – Jason Sickel, a vocal music instructor at Blue Valley North High School, was named the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year on Saturday, Nov. 19, during a special ceremony in Wichita.
Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson made the announcement at a gathering of about 450 people during the Kansas Teacher of the Year Banquet at the Marriott Hotel, 9100 E. Corporate Hills Drive, in Wichita.
“It is my honor to present this award to Jason,” Watson said. “He does a remarkable job teaching his students that performing arts and music are important. Jason shows students that he genuinely cares about them. He uses the arts as a vehicle to help his students grow — not only academically, but socially and emotionally, too. Jason also has demonstrated strong leadership skills at Blue Valley North High School. He is truly a remarkable teacher and very deserving of this honor.”
Sickel was named the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year from a field of eight finalists.
Throughout the coming year, all of the finalists will work as a team to advocate for education and teaching.
Selected from a pool of more than 100 nominations, the 2017 finalists are: Jennifer Farr, a fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Junction City (Geary County Unified School District 475); Lori Stratton, an English and reading teacher at Wamego High School (Wamego USD 320); Kristine Bruce, a fourth-grade teacher at Auburn Elementary School (Auburn-Washburn USD 437); Maret Schrader, a ninth-grade language arts teacher at Seaman High School in Topeka (Seaman USD 345); Jonathan Ferrell, a sixth-grade science teacher at Briarwood Elementary School in Overland Park (Shawnee Mission USD 512); Crystal May, a fourth-grade mathematics, science and social studies teacher at Pray-Woodman Elementary School in Maize (Maize USD 266); and Dr. Brent Wolf, a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Derby North Middle School (Derby USD 260).
Sickel has taught at Blue Valley North High School for four years. He received his bachelor’s degree in music education in 2004 from Emporia State University. He currently is attending the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance to obtain his master’s degree in music education.
He has been teaching for 13 years and began his career as a vocal music teacher for Osawatomie USD 367. He also has taught at Louisburg USD 416 and Olathe USD 233.
Sickel is involved in several leadership activities and has developed numerous workshops and presentations.
“I can think of no other professional more deserving for this year’s Kansas Teacher of the Year Award than Jason Sickel,” said Tyson Ostroski, assistant principal at Blue Valley North High School. “It is because of him that young people feel empowered to grow not only as students but as people. There is little doubt that there will be countless people many years from now who will always remember the lessons learned in Mr. Sickel’s choir class.”
Sickel was born to two dedicated educators. His father was a fifth- through 12th-grade band director in St. Marys, Kan. His mother taught sixth- through eighth-grade students in Emmett, Kan.
“My childhood was essentially a comprehensive, constructive and creative teaching methods class,” Sickel wrote in his application. “I loved growing up knowing that my parents were amazing teachers who were respected, valued and loved for their unwavering commitment to students and the community. By the time Mr. and Mrs. Sickel retired, both had taught a combination of 72 years and had touched the lives of thousands of students.”
Chad Liby, director of marketing for Security Benefit in Topeka, presented Sickel with a $4,000 cash award.
In addition, Sickel will receive the Kansas Teacher of the Year Lifelong Learning Scholarship to attend participating universities free of charge as long as he continues teaching in Kansas, and The Hubbard Foundation Kansas Teacher of the Year Ambassadorship. The ambassadorship provides funds for travel and other necessary expenses incurred by the Kansas Teacher of the Year. Sickel also will receive the use of a rental car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car for Kansas Teacher of the Year travel. Jostens Inc. also provided Sickel with a Leader in Education ring.
All eight members of the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year team received a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit and a red marble apple from the Master Teacher in Manhattan. In addition, each will receive Capturing Kids’ Hearts training from The Flippen Group, of College Station, Texas, and a one-year membership in the Kansas State Teachers of the Year organization.
The Teacher of the Year program has state and national competitions. The national program, presented by Voya Financial, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Kansas program is sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education.
Sickel is now a candidate for National Teacher of the Year.
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