USD 475 announced on December 20, 2017, that Jackie Bender, from Sheridan Elementary, and Jennifer Brown, from Junction City Middle School, would be the USD 475 nominees for Kansas Teacher of the Year. Each school district is given the opportunity to nominate one elementary classroom teacher and one secondary classroom teacher for Kansas Teacher of the Year from within the district. These nominees must be a full-time classroom teacher in any state-approved or accredited school in USD 475, pre-kindergarten through grade twelve, who is planning to continue in an active teaching status. Jackie and Jennifer were chosen by a panel of previous Kansas Teacher of the Year nominees from the school district to represent USD 475 for the 2019 school year.
Jackie Bender has been with USD 475 for three years teaching first grade at Sheridan Elementary. She is originally from upstate New York. She studied early childhood education at Niagara University and then earned her Master’s in Education with a concentration in literacy from City University of Seattle. Jackie is certified in Early Childhood Education, Early-Late Childhood Generalist, and English to Speakers of Other Languages. Her journey includes teaching pre-k, first and second grades in the states of New York, Washington, North Carolina, and Kansas.
“I love teaching at USD 475 for so many reasons. Most important are the kids, families and my co-workers who all help create a positive, exciting, and energetic environment for the kids to learn in. The diversity in our district is really unique and the different backgrounds our kids come from really contribute to their learning. The support we receive from the community and district is tremendous. There is an abundance of professional and personal development opportunities. My recent involvement in Girls on the Run was a perfect mix of being a role model for students while being able to do something I really love, which is running.” – Jackie Bender
Jennifer Brown has been with USD 475 for eight years. She teaches Language Arts at Junction City Middle School. She began teaching in the inner-city of Cleveland in 2002 as part of a school-based masters program. After moving to Kansas for her husband’s job, she began teaching in the district in 2007.
“I love teaching in 475 because of the people. In every position I’ve had, I’ve always been surrounded by amazing colleagues, great administrators, and fantastic kids. It really is the best place to work, learn, and grow.” – Jennifer Brown