Two teachers become Region 1 finalists for 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year
SALINA, Kan. (WIBW) - Two teachers from Region 1 were named finalists for the 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year.
Kansas State Department of Education announced Erin Pittenger, an elementary teacher at St. George Elementary School, Rock Creek Unified School District 323, and Gretchen Elliott, an art teacher at Smoky Valley High School, Smoky Valley USD 400, Were named Region 1 finalists for the 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year award program during a ceremony on Saturday, April 1 at Tony’s Pizza Event Center located at 800 The Midway in Salina.
Kansas State Department of Education said the award recognizes teaching in elementary and secondary classrooms across the state.
As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Pittenger and Elliot each will receive a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, the major corporate partner for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. Additionally, they are each eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, which will be announced during a ceremony Saturday, Sept. 23 in Wichita, Kan.
Kansas State Department of Education stated that Pittenger and Elliot were among six Teacher of the Year semifinalists from Region 1, which covers the first U.S. congressional district.
Other semifinalists included Lindsey Graham, a first-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, Clay Center USD 379, Chantay Hill, a third-grade teacher at Heusner Elementary School, Salina USD 305, Kelly Estes, a special education teacher at Wamego High School, Wamego USD 320, and Karl Stover, an agriculture teacher at Ellsworth High School, Ellsworth USD 327.
Each of the semifinalists will receive a red marble apple with a wooden base, compliments of The Master Teacher in Manhattan.
Kansas State Department of Education said this year, 124 educators were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year.
Nominations are made in each of four regions in the state. The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), 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 which include 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.
Kansas State Department of Education said the mission of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program is to build and utilize a network of teachers who are leaders in the improvement of schools, student performance, and the teaching profession.
The Kansas Teacher of the Year team, which is 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 teacher selected as the Kansas Teacher of the Year is eligible for national distinction as National Teacher of the Year.
Kansas State Department of Education noted 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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