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Two area teachers named finalists for Kansas Teacher of the Year during ceremony in Overland Park

Posted: Sep 15, 2019
Author: Ann Bush

OVERLAND PARK — Melissa K. Molteni, a second-grade teacher at Corinth Elementary School (Shawnee Mission Unified School District 512), and Amy R. Hillman, a sixth- and eighth-grade project-based learning teacher at Santa Fe Trail Middle School (Olathe USD 233), were named Region 3 finalists for the 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year award during a ceremony Sunday, Sept. 15, in Overland Park. This award recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state.

As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Molteni and Hillman each received a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, the major corporate partner for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. In addition, they are each now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, which will be announced during a ceremony Saturday, Nov. 23, in Wichita.

Molteni and Hillman were among six Teacher of the Year semifinalists from Region 3, which covers the third U.S. congressional district.

Other semifinalists were Nancy L. Smith, a first-grade teacher at Bentwood Elementary School (Olathe USD 233); Miranda S. Hodo, a reading teacher at Nike Elementary School (Gardner Edgerton USD 231); Jessica B. Thompson, a business and marketing teacher at Turner High School (Turner USD 202); and Kathryn C. Holmes, a special education secondary transition teacher at J.C. Harmon High School (Kansas City USD 500).

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

This year, 131 educators across the state were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction.

Nominations are made in each of four regions in the state. The Kansas State Department of Education, sponsor of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, appoints regional selection panels comprised of teachers, education administrators and higher education representatives to select semifinalists and finalists from each region.

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 Kansas Teacher of the Year 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.

The Kansas Teacher of the Year team, comprised of the Teacher of the Year and state finalists, serves as an ambassador for education in Kansas, making public appearances across the state promoting education and the teaching profession.

The individual selected as the Kansas Teacher of the Year is eligible for national distinction as National Teacher of the Year.

The National Teacher of the Year program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the Voya Foundation.

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