November 19, 2011
Kathy Toelkes, Director of Communications, 785-296-4876
Olathe high school teacher named 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year
WICHITA—Tiffany Richard, a high school biology, chemistry and AVID program teacher at Olathe East High School in the Olathe School District, USD 233, was named the 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year during ceremonies in Wichita Saturday night. Commissioner of Education Dr. Diane DeBacker made the announcement before a gathering of more than 400 education officials, corporate leaders and state policy makers.
“I’m extremely pleased to present this award to Tiffany Richard,” Commissioner DeBacker said. "Her great passion for teaching and for learning is so evident, it’s impossible not to be affected by it. It’s what makes her a leader in her school and district and what inspires her students to do their best.”
Richard was named the 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year from a field of eight finalists. Throughout the coming year all of the finalists will work as a team to advocate for education and teaching. Selected from a pool of 106 nominations, the 2012 finalists are: Carla Goertzen, a fourth-grade teacher at Buhler Grade School, Buhler USD 313; Amelia S. Adams, a seventh- and eighth-grade Spanish and teen leadership teacher at West Middle School, Liberal USD 480; Sherry L. Helus, a third-grade teacher at West Elementary School, Wamego USD 320; Michael C. Pickman, a 10th-grade language arts teacher at Prairie View High School in La Cygne, Prairie View USD 362; Emily K. Fleming, a kindergarten teacher at Hazel Grove Elementary School, Kansas City USD 500; Christopher D. Christian, a fifth-grade teacher at Pray-Woodman Elementary School, Maize USD 266; and Elizabeth A. Roberts, a high school language arts, AVID and Future Educators teacher at Wichita North High School, Wichita USD 259.
Richard has been a biology and chemistry teacher at Olathe East High School for the past eight years, and an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) teacher/coordinator for the past four years. Prior to that, she spent seven years teaching biology, chemistry and pre-algebra at El Segundo High School in California and a year teaching applied biochemistry and biology at Joplin High School in Missouri.
In addition to her teaching duties, Richard serves as the AVID coordinator for her district as well as the Science State Standards Alignment Leader. Richard has also served as a Girl Scout leader for the past five years and helps to coach children’s sports teams.
In a letter of nomination, Richard’s principal, Dr. Thomas Barry, describes Richard as “an extremely knowledgeable science teacher and AVID Program Teacher and Coordinator.” He said her caring attitude with students and fellow staff members sets her apart.
“Tiffany is a highly caring and effective teacher who helps students and faculty alike,” Barry said. “Her professionalism is highly respected and her passion toward helping all students learn sets a great example for all of us here at East.”
As a science teacher, Richard said she wants to help her students rediscover the wonder and curiosity they felt about the world when they were small children. “Science is a subject we have been enjoying since we first wondered why the sky is blue,” she said. “My daily challenge is to bring my students back to the stage of wondering about and questioning the world around them.”
To reawaken that curiosity, Richard creates hands-on inquiry activities that lead students to discover new concepts through their own questioning and hypothesizing. “I want to break down my students’ limitations and engage them in higher-level thinking,” Richard said. “I want my students to realize how to learn.”
Equally important to ensuring her students are successful is ensuring they know she
cares about them and their success, said Richard. “I will go to any length to help them,” said Richard. “I will help them with assignments both from my class and from any other class. I work with them before and after school, on weekends, and on holiday breaks. Knowing that I care so deeply helps my students strive to do and be their very best. “Teaching is the greatest privilege a person can have,” she said. “Creating a positive and lasting impact on the lives of young adults is an honor that I have each day.”
As Teacher of the Year, Richard receives a $4,000 cash award from Security Benefit, a major sponsor of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program.
“On behalf of our associates at Security Benefit, I am pleased to congratulate Tiffany Richard for this accomplishment and to thank all Kansas teachers for their tireless dedication to helping students achieve,” said Michael P. Kiley, Chief Executive Officer of Security Benefit Corp. “In addition to helping thousands of educators plan for their retirement future, sponsorship of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program allows Security Benefit to give back to the professionals who mean so much to the lives of our children. Our recognition of these teachers today extends to the many teachers who touched our lives, helped us realize our dreams and encouraged us to be the best we could be.”
Richard also receives a Lifelong Learning Scholarship from the Kansas Board of Regents, Washburn University, Baker University, Bethany College, Kansas Wesleyan University, MidAmerica Nazarene University, University of Saint Mary, Tabor College, and Webster University-Kansas City; and a Jostens Leader in Education ring.
As the 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year, Richard will also receive an educational technology package valued at approximately $14,475 from SMART Technologies ULC of Canada. This year’s Teaching Excellence Award includes a SMART Board™ with projector or SMART Response PE (32 units), SMART Document Camera and SMART slate, class license for Notebook™ software, NotebookTM software student edition portable bracelet, school site license for SMART IdeasTM concept-mapping software, one license for SMART Notebook Math ToolsTM, SMART BridgitTM conferencing software, SMART Classroom Suite for 11-40 student computers and technology training.
In addition, Richard will receive The Hubbard Foundation Kansas Teacher of the Year Ambassadorship. The ambassadorship provides funds for travel and other necessary expenses incurred by the Kansas Teacher of the Year. Enterprise Rent-a-Car will provide the lease of a car and the Kansas Corn Commission will provide ethanol gas for Richard to use while fulfilling her Teacher of the Year duties.
All eight members of the 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year team will receive a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, and a one-year school site license for SMART IdeasTM concept mapping software and technology training from SMART Technologies ULC. The Kansas Teacher of the Year semi-finalists and finalists also receive a golden apple from The Master Teacher in Manhattan.
The Teacher of the Year program has state and national competitions. The national 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 program is sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education.
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