TOPEKA — Signe A. Cook, a fifth-grade teacher at Park Elementary School (Great Bend Unified School District 428), and Jennifer S. Brown, a first-grade teacher at Sheridan Elementary School (Geary County USD 475), were named Region 1 finalists for the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year award during a ceremony Saturday, Sept. 8, in Salina. This award recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state.
As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Cook and Brown 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 ceremonies in Wichita on Nov. 17.
Cook teaches mathematics, science, English language arts interventions, keyboarding and social-emotional classes in Great Bend.
Brown was nominated while teaching seventh-grade English language arts at Junction City Middle School. She now teaches first grade at Sheridan Elementary School, which also is in Geary County USD 475.
Cook and Brown were among six Teacher of the Year semifinalists from Region 1, which covers the first U.S. congressional district.
Other semifinalists were Myron Tedford, a fifth-grade teacher at North Elementary School (Goodland USD 352); Lisa M. Simmelink, a music teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School (McPherson USD 418); Alyssa M. Dawson, a language arts and theater teacher at Ellis Jr.-Sr. High School (Ellis USD 388); and Tina M. McIver, a creative writing teacher at Council Grove Jr.-Sr. High School (Morris County USD 417).
Each of the semifinalists received a red marble apple with a wooden base, compliments of The Master Teacher in Manhattan.
This year, 114 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, serve as ambassadors 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.