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2018 Kansas Horizon Award Program Recognizes 32 First-Year Kansas Educators

TOPEKA – Thirty-two first-year educators from Kansas are being recognized for their outstanding teaching skills through the 2018 Kansas Horizon Award program.

The award recipients were announced Jan. 9 by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).

The first-year educators will be honored at a special ceremony during the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN) State Education Conference on Feb. 16 in Topeka.

The Kansas Horizon Award program, which is sponsored by KSDE, allows all school districts in the state an opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the award.

To be eligible for the award, teachers must have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding.

The program is a regional competition with four regions corresponding to the state’s U.S. Congressional districts. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers may be selected for the award from each region.

Recipients of the 2018 Kansas Horizon Award were notified of their selection by Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson.

“I want to congratulate these outstanding teachers,” Watson said. “Each recipient has demonstrated their dedication to the teaching profession, and I want to thank them for their time and talent. With the help of great teachers like these, we are one step closer to meeting the vision for education in the state, which is Kansas leads the world in the success of each student. Kansas is lucky to have such quality teachers in its classrooms.”

2018 Kansas Horizon Award Recipients
Region 1
Katie Crowsey, Lyons Middle School, Lyons USD 405
Tanner Dahlke, Riley Elementary School, Great Bend USD 428
Taylor Gros, Bluemont Elementary School, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383
Arika Haresnape, Clifton-Clyde High School, Clifton-Clyde USD 224
Mandy Malone, Hutchinson Middle School, Hutchinson USD 308
Kelly Oberheu, Emporia High School, Emporia USD 253
Jessica Steele, Cottonwood Elementary School, Salina USD 305
Courtney Unruh, Hutchinson Magnet School, Hutchinson USD 308

Region 2
Lindy Broeckelman, Logan Elementary School, Seaman USD 345
Brandon Daley, Woodlawn Elementary School, Lawrence USD 497
April Gee, Valley Heights Junior Senior High School, Valley Heights USD 498
Avery Ozier, Pauline Central Primary School, Auburn-Washburn USD 437
Samuel Parrilla, Burlington Middle/High School, Burlington USD 244
Derek Smith, Southern Coffey County High School, Southern Coffey County USD 245
Ashley Snow, Lakeside Elementary School, Pittsburg USD 250
Berenice Weisel, Southwest Middle School, Lawrence USD 497

Region 3
Sarah Broddle, Monticello Trails Middle School, De Soto USD 232
Paige Fickbohm, Oak Grove Elementary School, Turner USD 202
Christopher Hagedorn, Spring Hill High School, Spring Hill USD 230
Melissa Kinzer, Chisholm Trail Middle School, Olathe USD 233
Alexandria Mackenzie, Apache Innovative School, Shawnee Mission USD 512
Katie Omo, Prairie Ridge Elementary School, De Soto USD 232
Michael Richards, Oxford Middle School, Blue Valley USD 229
Michaela Shandy, Blue River Elementary School, Blue Valley USD 229

Region 4
Connor Christensen, Apollo Elementary School, Goddard USD 265
Hilary Cosgrove, Freeman Elementary School, Haysville USD 261
Hannah Martin, Maize South Middle School, Maize USD 266
Constance Neale, Slate Creek Elementary School, Newton USD 373
Carlyn Olson, Winfield High School, Winfield USD 465
Colleen Tajchman, Derby Hills Elementary School, Derby USD 260
Rachel Villareale, Rose Hill Middle School, Rose Hill USD 394
Jessica Williams, Stafford Middle/High School, Stafford USD 349

As recipients of the Kansas Horizon Award, these educators are invited to KEEN, a network of educators from around the state who have been formally recognized for exemplary performance. Members of KEEN have an opportunity to network with other outstanding educators and participate in several professional development programs throughout the year.

Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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