There were two USD 457 teachers that were recognized on Saturday, April 1, at the Region 1 Kansas Teacher of the Year award ceremony held in Salina. Lisa Juel, Special Education/Mental Health Liaison at Garden City Achieve, and Alice Hilt, drama/theatre teacher at Garden City High School, were both nominated for the award, which recognizes excellent teaching in elementary and secondary classrooms across the state.
This year, 124 educators across the state were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction.
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. They are each now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, which will be announced during a ceremony Saturday, Sept. 23, in Wichita.
Nominations are made in each of four regions in the state. Region 1 covers the first U.S. congressional district in Kansas. The Kansas State Department of Education (KDSE), 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.