Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications for the Kansas State Department of Education, r 785-296-4876
Two area teachers named finalists for Kansas Teacher of the Year-Region 1
TOPEKA—Sept. 8, 2012—Colleen Mitchell, an elementary English language arts teacher at Walnut Elementary School in Emporia (Emporia USD 253), and Sarah A. Berblinger, a seventh- and eighth-grade intensive assistance teacher for mathematics and reading at Prairie Hills Middle School in Hutchinson (Buhler USD 313), were named Region 1 finalists for the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year award today.
The announcements were made during ceremonies at the Salina Country Club. As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Mitchell and Berblinger each received a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, a major partner in the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. In addition, they are now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, an award that will be announced during ceremonies in Wichita on Nov. 17.
Mitchell and Berblinger were among six Teacher of the Year semi-finalists from Region 1, which covers the first U.S. congressional district. Other semi-finalists were Arica Malone, a third-grade teacher at Southwest Elementary School in Pratt (Pratt USD 382); Stacy M. Befort, a kindergarten teacher at Washington Elementary School in Ellis (Ellis USD 388); Anissa S. Bigler, a high school English teacher at Salina Central High School (Salina USD 305); and Debra “Debbie” K. Thomas, a high school strategic reading teacher and library media specialist at Meade High School (Meade USD 226). Each of the semi-finalists received a red marble apple with a wooden base, compliments of The Master Teacher in Manhattan. Statewide, 91 educators 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 semi-finalists and finalists from each region.
Each panel selects six semi-finalists - three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers. From those semi-finalists, 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 regional finalists.
The individual selected as the Kansas Teacher of the Year is eligible for national distinction as Teacher of the Year. The National Teacher of the Year program, sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with the University of Phoenix Foundation and People to People Ambassador Programs. The Kansas Teacher of the Year team, comprised of the Teacher of the Year and state finalists, travels the state advocating for education and the teaching profession.
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