Grown-Up Christmas List

As Christmas somehow continues to sneak up on us, I have been asked several times what my Christmas list includes. I can think of a number of treasures that I think I really want, but as I continue to get older, grow in my profession, and, as my marriage ages, I am finding that the things I want, I either buy for myself or realistically talk myself out of.

When it comes to my family’s traditions, the adult couples draw the names of another couple, and then we all buy gifts for the nephews and niece.

As an adult, it is quite easy to sift through my list of possible wants and think to myself, “This is crazy, I could get this for myself, if I really needed it.” Or, “Who am I and what have I done to receive these gifts?”

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Grown-up Christmas List” sung by Amy Grant. In the lyrics, Amy wishes that: “No more lives torn apart/That wars would never start/And time would heal all hearts/Everyone would have a friend/And right would always win/And love would never end.”

I must admit, that just like Amy, these are really the things that I want. So, in the spirit of grown-up Christmas lists, here is mine:

1. I want my students to know they are loved by me and by a saviour who loves them more than anyone ever could.

2. That my students would fully understand that the people they are, who they truly are, is enough. They don’t need to act a certain way, or put up a front. Their true selves are beautiful!

3. That people, all over, would just be nice to each other; genuinely nice!

4. That our world would be a place that isn’t scary and isn’t full of such awful conflicts.

5. And finally, that everyone would get to experience, at some point in their lives, the feelings of 100 percent pure joy!

I am so excited to see and experience the blessings that the Christmas season brings. I know that along with receiving a couple of goodies off my want list, I can be actively working towards checking off a couple items from my grown-up list.

We live in a time where genuine niceness, love, and joy are gifts that anyone would be lucky to receive.

Keep this in mind as you go about preparing for, and celebrating this holiday season with those closest to you!

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to WFM publisher Todd Vogts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This essay originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Wichita Family Magazine.

What to Do?

By Kendall Vogts

What to do? As a teacher, enjoying his or her summer break, that seems to be a question that comes up often and is usually followed by a smile or smirk and glazed over eyes as they wander off into the world of beautiful, student-free possibilities.

From the months of August through May, teachers are busy with everything school, but in June and July, things are different!

Now, as an auntie of young and school-aged children, I understand perfectly, have seen and have experienced summer activities for children. The goal is to keep the kids busy with fun, adventurous, silly, outdoorsy, educational and time-consuming activities. This list might include trips to the pool, the zoo, children’s museums or the park.

Parents or caretakers plan crafts like painting, sidewalk chalk and making your own silly putty. There might even be that carpooling parent, like my oldest sister, who spends time shuttling kids to library time, swimming lessons, dance lessons and gymnastics.

Needless to say, painting a picture of what students do during summer break could be pretty easy.

But what about the educators? What do we do? For some non-educators, I think they picture us sleeping in, shopping, eating out and watching TV. While those things might happen a smidge of the time, there are many other things we enjoy doing or must do in order to prepare for the next school year.

To start out, on our time off, we travel! We plan vacations with our loved ones, and we let loose a bit. My husband and I will be heading to Kansas City to Schlitterbahn with friends and will take an anniversary vacation. We also hop in the car and visit our family members. By the time summer is over, I will have visited my oldest sister and her family in Minnesota. I will have driven south to Oklahoma to visit my middle sister’s family. And I will have made it to my hometown to see all of the family that live there.

Also, we work on our homes. During the school year, there is a lot of time spent away from our houses. I don’t think people realize this, but most days, I spend more time at school than I do my own home! Sometimes, educators are lucky just to make supper for our families and spend a couple hours with them before we head to bed, only to start the routine over again.

So during the summer, we garden, paint walls, re-arrange furniture, finally complete that Pinterest craft we’ve had our eyes on, de-clutter and enjoy being able to live in our own space and not our classrooms.

Next, we prepare for the next school year. While at the beginning of our summer vacation, we want to be as far away from anything school related as possible; however, we eventually have to bite the bullet in order to be fully ready for our next round of kids. We meet with our partner teachers to plan lessons, we set up our classrooms, we copy notes and forms that each student will need, number our books, set up our progress monitoring tools and so much more.

Finally, this year especially and in the state of Kansas, teachers on their summer vacations have worried about their jobs and the future of education. Teaching is my and my husband’s job. We need our jobs to pay off student debt (which will increase because to make gains in this profession, you must continue your education), to pay for our cars, insurance, our new home and the other means by which we live.

I can see how, looking from an outsider’s perspective could be considered selfish. “They are only teaching for the money.” At that I might give a chuckle because of the amount on the paystub I get each month.

But the questions remain: Didn’t I get into education for the kids? To teach them English, as well as how to be contributing, awesome members of society? And the answer to all those question is yes! And that is why as teachers during this summer vacation we are concerned about the future of education in the State of Kansas. We are required to do so much, with students who may or may not even what to be there, with so, so little in the way of support and supplies. Public education is important. School is the safest, most consistent place for a majority of students out there.

Parents and guardians, think about those things while our kids and teachers are on summer vacation.

Regardless of the role — parent, student, or educator — summer vacation is a special time. It gives everyone the opportunity to relax, decompress, make memories and prepare for the upcoming school year.

As you are helping your student get ready for 2016-17 school session, remember their teachers. Their summers are spent doing much more than wondering, “What to do?”.

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to WFM publisher Todd Vogts.

Wichita-Area Summer Activities for Everyone

By Kendall Vogts

May is finally here, and it seems like even though there were few April showers to bring May flowers, everything is slowly, but surely budding out and blooming. As I’m writing, it seems that the trees, that just days ago were bare, are green, leafy and blowing in the breeze! Spring, to me, is always a time of life. Winter months bring the death or hibernation of things when it comes to nature, but spring is the start and return of life!

As I’m joyous about all that spring brings, the teacher in me is squirming, itching and wondering if my face could sink anymore; if the bags under my eyes could get any bigger. Let’s face it, by mid April, the students are mentally done. The teachers… oh, that probably hits shortly after, if not by the first of May. The school year goes by so quickly. It seems like we have just started, and then it’s Thanksgiving break. And then before we know it, it’s February. After February, however, it feels as though the school year slows down, and by May, it’s as if time is crawling by.

Needless to say, summer break is a big deal, for students and teachers alike. We busy ourselves teaching and learning a year’s worth of content in nine months, and for students who are any bit behind, they have to work twice as hard with their educators. So as school comes to a close, treat your student to something special, something to reward them for their hard work, something totally un-school related.

Here is a teacher’s list of summer approved activities! As I have gotten to know my eighth grade students, I am pretty confident in saying that most, if not all, of these activities could be student approved!

Take a trip to the Sedgwick County Zoo. I am so impressed with the grounds, the animals and the activities they have at the zoo during the summer!

Make a day of it and go to a water park or a swimming pool different than the ones you and your family frequent.

Go on a walk or a bike ride and stop by a local splash pad or spray park.

Take a picnic lunch and head to the lake. If boating or jet skiing aren’t for you, grab some fishing poles and head to the docs, or take your bathing suits and swim near the beach.

Head to the Cosmosphere or Strataca (the salt museum), both located just up the road in Hutchinson, Kansas. Both have awesome opportunities for families!

Take an afternoon and go paint some pottery at Color Me Mine, right there in Wichita.

Plant a garden at home. Make a goal of using home grown produce during the summer or plant your own pumpkins to prepare for the fall.

To free your mind and unwind during the summer is not the huge task it seems to be. I understand that even after school’s out, kids remain busy, and it might seem that they are even busier. However, as a teacher, I see the benefits of taking a moment, slowing down and reconnecting with family. Make new memories and get to know more about your kids! As they grow, they see, hear and experience more than you would imagine. Take the time and make your own summer to-do list, or use mine and cross off a few of my to-dos. You might just see the editor and I on our trip to the zoo!

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to WFM publisher Todd Vogts.

February from a Teacher’s Perspective

By Kendall Vogts

supportI am one blessed teacher! I had a long Christmas break and was able to spend time with my family and friends, make many wonderful memories, play with my nephews and niece, and get in some much needed relaxation time. I slept in, lounged on the couch, and binge-watched a show on Netflix with my husband. It was fantastic! But, I must admit, the time leading up to Christmas break is sometimes difficult on students and teachers, as is the time refocusing, once our break is over.

Coming back from Christmas break is an adjustment. Rules and expectations must be retaught, lessons start back slowly, and interruptions from students are many, but finally we get rolling again.

All is well through January!

We hit that last week, in stride, and glide into February, but then that itch comes around again. It’s a, “Haven’t we been here for a while?” itch. Yes, by mid-February, the teachers feel it too. We see students squirm in seats. We see a growing lack of enthusiasm, and we see glazed over eyes, as our students search for the light at the end of the tunnel that comes in the form of Spring break.

It’s true… The time between Christmas and Spring Break can seem extremely long and strenuous. But while your kids might seem very “blah” about this point of the school year, remember, there is also the side of your child’s educators to consider. Let me shed some light on it for you!

In February, we are trying our hardest to engage your children! We are preparing for and carrying out parent/teacher conferences where we truly want to see you and your children show up! We are going to our students’ ball games! We are trying our best to help your students solve problems at school (because even when they don’t tell you, they are there). We are entering grades. We are staying after school in order to help our students. We are taking time to work on interventions, in order to help your children become more successful. We are greeting your children in the hall and by the door! We are laughing with, high-fiving, fist-bumping, and hugging our students as they come into or exit our classrooms. All the while, knowing that our students are slowing down; hitting the wall of boredom or anxiousness as the next break away from structure, learning, and friendship that their teachers work very hard to provide.

So why do it? As teachers, why do we constantly put ourselves out there to only sometimes be well received? Why work to help your kids make connections with the material they are learning? Why work to make every single one of our 125 students feel valued and successful?

Well, because we love what we do. We love our students. I can truly say that I love each of my students. I pray for them, and I care about their success and well-being. I have a common response that I tell everyone who asks me, “8th graders, how’s that? Aren’t they difficult?” Here it is: I love my job, and I really do have the best group of students. And even when they are jerks (because let’s face it, teenagers can be jerks sometimes) they are mine. For this school year, they are my students and I wouldn’t want to be with anyone else.

So as your students slow down, hit a wall, or become very “blah” in the month of February, help their teachers by encouraging them.

Send them to school with the reminder that you love them, and so do their teachers. Tell them that you are proud of them for all they have accomplished. Send them to school with a note of encouragement, and pack an extra for their teachers!

You see your kids every day, and so do their teachers. There are two sides to the story, when it comes to school and even when it’s hard or monotonous, your child’s educator is working to help your students love and be successful at school!

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to WFM publisher Todd Vogts.

New Year, New Resolution

By Kendall Vogts

KendallEssayEvery New Year’s Eve, I start the evening with the plan of making and carrying out a resolution for the new year. My resolutions have been things such as: losing weight and getting more active, reading my Bible more and getting closer to The Lord, and being a better friend by making a conscious effort to be more communicative.

Now, we all know that when making a resolution, we are committing to do or not do something for an entire year. However, when looking at the definitions of the word resolution (as an English teacher, I do that sort of thing, often), I found another definition: “The action of solving a problem.”

For me, resolving to do or stop doing something for a year has never worked out. I either forget or become noncommittal. However, this year, I think that working to solve a problem is very realistic for me, as everyday, I see problems walk in and out of my classroom.

No, I am not referring to my students as problems, but the slumps of their shoulders, their down faces, their curse words, and rude gestures are the results of the problems they face. I know what you’re thinking, “There is no way this lady can solve every problem for each of her, 125 students.”

And I agree. You are right. But I can work to change how I act toward them to bring peace and hope to situations that, for them, might seem like or actually be problems.

This morning, as I was driving to work, I knew there were going to be tough events that would and had to take place. I had to respond to emails where people were not necessarily in agreeance with me. I had to explain a recent decision I made. I had to talk to a young lady about the consequences of her actions. And all of this because two of my students had not made good decisions while at school.

As I was playing out the scenarios in my head, before I even arrived at school, I knew I had to stop right in my tracks. The nerves had woken me up, kept me awake, and were giving me anxiety during my drive. I knew this was a far bigger ordeal than I could handle on my own.

I prayed for the right words, that my actions would not be my own, that I would speak (and email) words of grace to the people that I had contact with throughout the day.

I have been shown so much grace before, during, and after the things in my life that have seemed like and have actually been problems. And I have felt a peace and hope be restored.

So, that is my resolution, or my vow to work towards ending problems; to stop, take a moment before I speak, respond, or act, and attempt to see their troubles the way that they do and try to show as much grace as possible to the people and the problem at hand.

In this season of joy, family, togetherness, and the hope of positive, future change, I hope that you can come up with a resolution that you can commit to for the year of 2016. Maybe you will vow to help end some problem that you see in your life, or the lives of those close to you. If resolutions aren’t for you, I hope that 2016 treats you well and that you experience so much peace and happiness.

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to WFM publisher Todd Vogts.

Baking Up Memories

By Kendall Vogts

KendallColumOn a recent trip home to celebrate my parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary, I was talking with my mom while she was baking in the kitchen. With the season of everything homemade, rich, sweet, salty, mashed, and creamy upon us, I am reminded of my experiences in the kitchen with my mom and older sisters.

I am the youngest of three girls, and have never been the one heading up the goings on in the kitchen, but I have always been the one to help when asked, ask questions about the recipes, listen to the conversations going on, and watch, very impressed, as the older women in my life bring life to the simplest ingredients.

Today, I like to think that I am pretty handy around the kitchen. I like to try new recipes, make tasty treats and meals for my husband, and am excited to take part in the baking during our family get-togethers. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, I am reminded of how continually blessed I am by those experiences in the kitchen. I also feel extremely blessed to have grown up in the location and decade that I did. It was a much simpler time, even though there were many technological advances taking place, and crimes being committed, I was unaware of these goings on.

That is unlike the experiences of my students that I see on a daily basis. They grow up in a rough area, the advances in technology, crime, and issues of society are daily a part of their lives. There is not one “issue” that my students are blind to. They live them and breath them. So when I compare my heartfelt kitchen experiences to the ones they might have, I am saddened.

Many of my students cook out of necessity. They are the “adults” and must provide for younger siblings. Others of my students will never know of the homemade delicacies that I have tasted because of a lack of family funds or a lack of passed down cooking knowledge from past generations. Finally, the conversations that my students witness in their households will not create fond memories. They are witnesses to fighting, cursing, and problems of their guardians are placed on their shoulders.

I want nothing more than for my students to have beautiful memories of the holiday seasons. At school, I attempt to do my part to help them feel happy, cared for and loved. I know that scattered in the students that I have mentioned previously, there are students who will have experiences like I did. Keep this in mind as you enter this time of thankfulness. We are blessed by the time we have with our loved one,s and memories that might be labeled as simple or unnecessary to create, really carry a heavier weight than you would image. Take the time. Let your kids help when you need it. Let them ask questions about the recipes. Let them listen to happy conversations, and let them watch, very impressed, as you bring life to simple ingredients.

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to the luckiest man alive, Wichita Family Magazine publisher Todd Vogts.

The Season of Pumpkin Spice

By Kendall Vogts

KendallEssay“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” While I am one to sing this from the mountain top, while wearing a turtleneck with graphics of fall-colored leaves and scarecrows, sipping on my pumpkins spice latte from Starbucks, others might disagree. As the stores pump out fall-themed decorations, halloween costumes, spooky movies and children’s books, pumpkin spiced cookies, Pop Tarts, cupcakes, pudding, and coffee, I can not help but get excited! Fall is my favorite season. I love the cool weather that allows me to wear boots and scarves, and as a teacher and coach, there are many things that fall brings to the school year that fill me with so much joy!

I find myself getting lost in coaching cross country and doting over my runners, and I love celebrating the victories of my students who play football, volleyball, and cheer. Also, as a wife to a high school teacher, I find myself enjoying the triumphs of his students, as well! In all of the excitement, I think it is easy to ignore, or completely cover up, anything negative. However, it has been brought to my attention that in all of the joys of fall and the ever-busy school year, there are students at every level who are struggling.

While many students try to cover up their struggles by internalizing them, the honesty and bluntness of students, at least my students, bring all of their daily pains into clear view. I gave my eighth grade students an assignment to write a personal narrative essay. The topic for their personal narrative was a memory from their past that impacted their life in a positive or negative way. Some chose topics like: an incredible vacation, the day their siblings were born, or the first time they went hunting with their dad. Others chose things like: the days leading up to my parents’ divorce, my nanna getting cancer, family members dealing with drug abuse, or moving in with my foster family.

In their innocence and honesty, which I’m sure most people speculate as to whether those qualities truly exist in kids today or not, they have bared their souls to me. They have entrusted me with memories so personal, so negative, and it makes me want to just stop what I am doing and hug all of them. Many of us see middle school students, grade schoolers, or high school age students as difficult, shallow, rude, out of control, entitled, or any other stereotype that these age groups have, but for many of the students, there are reasons as to why they are the way that they are.

I became a teacher, not because of the “great” salary that I would receive for the rest of my life, but because I wanted to make a difference in my students’ lives the way a particular teacher from high school had influenced mine. However, the longer I teach and coach, the more I realize that I am a teacher because I need to know that at least the 125 students and 30 athletes at my school that I see everyday, which is still only about ⅓ of our student population, feel loved. My heart aches for my students every day; not only for the students who are clearly going through something difficult, but every single kid. I want them to feel love, I want them to know that they are cared for, that they can be and do anything that they could ever want, that they are my “kids” and I would go to battle for them, and that for this year, I want to be around no one else but them.

Fall, the time of the year when nature feels its death creeping up, slowly, crawling across the land, I feel life! The crisp air and warmness of the fall colors fill me with joy, eagerness, and I am revived. That is what I hope to give to my students. May I be their pumpkin spice, their fall-themed decorations, the jack o’lanterns, and the leaf piles that fill them with the wonder of, “I’m a kid, and I’ll jump into this wonderful unknown when I am ready.” And let me be, for them, assurance of, “If I am positive, there can only be good things to come!” Fall, the back to school season can be torturous for students, or it can be safe and inviting, and I am hoping that in my classroom, my students feel nothing less that genuinely loved.

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to the luckiest man alive, Wichita Family Magazine publisher Todd Vogts.

Seeking my happy place

By Kendall Vogts

running-shoes-1421645The school year is officially under way, and, as a teacher, coach, and wife to a teacher, I am feeling the freedoms of summer slipping away. I also feel the pressures of teacherhood, the dog-tiredness, the need to be there for my students and team, and the really strong want to just chill with my husband like we did over the summer.

In all of the craziness that comes as we move farther into the school year, for teachers, parents, and even the kiddos, it’s important to take time to do the things we love; even if it’s a bike ride, a movie marathon, or eating a favorite meal.

The special things tend to get buried under the stress, and that is why I am making it a goal for the school year to continue to do the things I love.

Doing our favorite things does not have to be limited to the three months in the year that we feel most “free”.

Along with the school year stresses, there is something else that I have been feeling that I find so exciting.

I know I am not the only one who feels fall coming. The cool mornings, mild afternoon temperatures, and crisp smelling air are screaming at me, “Fall is here, Kendall! It’s time!”

It is the perfect time to do one the things that I love so much.

I am a runner.

I don’t always run the farthest or the fastest, but since my senior year of high school, I have been a runner.

Like quite a few other runners I know, I prefer to run when it is cool outside, but the coolness and crispness of the fall air aren’t the only reasons why this is my favorite time to run. Running in the fall allows me to feel the most warming nostalgia, and I seek to recreate those feelings every time I run in the fall. That is easily one of my favorite things.

In college, I would visit my hometown of Minneapolis, Kan., and as a member of my college cross country team, I would need to do runs when I was away from campus.

In Minneapolis, I have a route that I absolutely love to run. It never gets old, and that is because it’s my happy place. That is a path that I try to recreate wherever I am. I run different routes where I currently live, and I have specific routes that I run when I visit my sisters in Oklahoma or Minnesota.

And I run them for the same reasons — those feelings.

When I am away an my happy place, it really doesn’t matter what the course looks like, or how challenging it is.

What really matters is that the air is cool and crisp, the leaves are changing, I am in my favorite long-sleeved T-shirt, and it smells like fall.

I take in everything my route has to offer, and I lose myself. The chaos of school, students, athletes, and a messy house leave me, and I am happy.

As the year continues, I will make it a point to “escape” in this way as often as I can, and I hope that you and your family are able to do the same thing.

Set down the dishes, the homework, and the car keys. Choose something special to you, and escape!

Kendall Vogts lives and teaches in Central Kansas. She is married to the luckiest man alive, Wichita Family Magazine publisher Todd Vogts.

Be a life-long learner

Pens_On_Desk

This is an exciting time of the year. Or, it is a terrifying and dreadful time of the year.

It’s all about perspective. Some are excited to for school to be starting up again, while others hate it.

Usually, those who hate it are students. Older students. High school students.

Elementary students are usually excited because they get to see their friends again and meet their new teachers and get a bunch of cool gear to start the school year off right.

Sure, high school students might get all of that as well, but it isn’t as high of a priority. And in an age of social media, they can Facebook, Tweet and Snapchat their friends whenever they want, so though school may be more of a socialize venture for them, they can still socialize in the summer without even having to step foot into their buildings of education.

For me personally, I am always excited, if not a little nervous, about August rolling around.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I am also a teacher, and my lovely new wife is a teacher as well.

It can be hectic trying to get plans ready, classrooms set up and simply into the right mindset to teach again.

However, I enjoy it. I consider myself a life-long learner. I enjoy acquiring new skills and knowledge, and I try to impart that upon my own students.

When I think about it, I haven’t been out of school since I first started. There might have been a year in there when I was running a weekly newspaper in central Kansas. This was between the completion of my bachelor’s degree from the esteemed Wichita State University and my deciding to become a teacher by pursing my credentials and master’s degree from Fort Hays State University. That span of time hardly counts, right?

I firmly believe education is important for our society. That doesn’t mean everyone should earn a four-year degree or a master’s degree. Maybe it means securing a vocational certification or getting an associate’s degree.

It all comes down to where a person wants to see his or her life go. There is no one right answer. It is an individual decision.

The key is know what you want and then taking the appropriate steps to achieve it.

Never stop learning. Seize every opportunity to better yourself and your mind. And, most importantly, embrace back-to-school time.

— Todd Vogts, publisher

Fall Without Summer

By Ian Anderson

Globe_and_BookTeachers have it easy, and I can say so because I am one. Of all the professions, teaching allows for a whole season of escape. I’ve heard rumors of year-round school, and talk of ridding the system of the old agrarian way of doing education. We simply do not need summers off because so few engage in farming anymore. That’s how the talk goes, and there’s more about the benefits of a year-round schedule, how students are more likely to hold on to what they’ve learned if the long summer break doesn’t interrupt the flow of learning.

The advantages of year-round school aside, I have something to say about summer — especially because the school year approaches so quickly, and I want to cling to it a little longer.

There are different kinds of leisure, two that float up before me. One includes swimming, books, and long naps; the other kind isn’t one that we think of quite as quickly — it’s work that doesn’t require much of our brain.

The first is what we all want right when the last school bell rings in May, even those of us who haven’t had a proper summer break since school days. The heat and the water call to us, or maybe it’s the hum of the air conditioner or the sound of a fishing reel. Memories forged from the unforgiving July sky aren’t readily forgotten. This kind of rest gives the mind a fresh starting place for the flurry of the fall.

As a student I didn’t see my summer painting job as a leisure activity, but I see it now. In between lifting weights and running for fall sports, I did the slow work of rolling and brushing paint on thirsty walls. I would wake early and work long hours, sometimes outside in the heat, sometimes inside. I could let my mind wander while my arms and hands did the work. Even now, similar tasks at home allow me the space my mind needs to have ideas and think through problems. Often it’s during these times that I pray, too.

Perhaps our nation has outgrown the original purpose of summer break, but perhaps not. Students and teachers alike not only need time to choose their own reading, or do a bit of sleeping in, but also the opportunity to work at things that allow for reflective thought. As the school year energy begins to flow, I wonder whether it would come without summer break; I don’t want to find out.

Ian Anderson is a teacher, a husband, and a dad. He lives with his family in Central Kansas. Occasionally, he tweets here: @ian_writes.

Jardine music teacher receives Albert Pike Award

Kimme Whittemore, center, received the Albert Pike Teacher of the Year Award. She is pictured with students Alec Morris and Nee Nee Benh. Back row left: Albert Pike Masonic Lodge 303 members Joe Beck, Chris Collins, Mike Ward, and Brian Byrd; and principal Lura Atherly.
Kimme Whittemore, center, received the Albert Pike Teacher of
the Year Award. She is pictured with students Alec Morris and Nee Nee Benh. Back row left: Albert Pike Masonic Lodge
303 members
Joe Beck, Chris Collins, Mike Ward, and Brian Byrd; and principal Lura Atherly.

Kimme Whittemore, instrumental music teacher at Jardine, received the 2015 Albert Pike Masonic Lodge Teacher of the Year Award. She was surprised with the honor during an all-school assembly. Members from the lodge pretended to be a musical group that was going to perform. As it became obvious that they didn’t know how to play, they asked if there was someone who could teach them how to play. A student who knew about the surprise nominated Whittemore to come onto the stage. When she walked on stage, they surprised her with the award.

The Albert Pike Award is given to teachers whose lessons go beyond the classroom and into the community. She was nominated for the award by Jardine’s principal Lura Atherly and a student.

Dodge third-grade teacher receives national Milken Award

From left, Dodger, school mascot; Susan Rosell,  principal,; Amy Stanislowski, Milken Award recipient; Lowell Milken, Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder; Sheril Logan, BOE President; Dale Dennis, Deputy Kansas Education Commissioner; Kathy Busch, Kansas State BOE and John Allison, Superintendent.
From left, Dodger, school mascot; Susan Rosell, principal,; Amy Stanislowski, Milken Award recipient; Lowell Milken, Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder; Sheril Logan, BOE President; Dale Dennis, Deputy Kansas Education Commissioner; Kathy Busch, Kansas State BOE and John Allison, Superintendent.

Amy Stanislowski, third-grade teacher at Dodge Literacy Magnet, received the national Milken Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation for outstanding teaching. She was surprised with the honor during a special assembly.

Referred to as “The Oscars of Teaching,” by Teacher Magazine, the purpose of the Milken Award is to recognize, celebrate and reward teachers, principals and other education professionals who make significant contributions to the education of children. Recipients are selected early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

Stanislowski received an unrestricted cash award of $25,000 and now belongs to a network of more than 2,600 educators, allowing her to share ideas with outstanding teachers from across the country.

Stanislowski said she’s will probably use some of her award to support her students and to take classes to further her education.