Kansas Teacher of the Year

This year, 109 educators from across the state were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction. Among them is our own Amber Pflughoeft,  math teacher at LHS, region 1 secondary education nominee. Nominations are made in each of the four congressional districts in the state. The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), 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. 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.

 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 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year State Awards Banquet will be Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, at the Wichita Marriott Hotel.

 Congratulations to teachers nominated for 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year program and the announcement of semifinalists and finalists for the program.

The 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year Regional Award Events will take place virtually. All events may be viewed live through YouTube. Links are provided below.

 When: Saturday, March 26, and Sunday, March 27.

             Saturday, March 26:

  • Region 1 – Awards Event 1-3 p.m.

YouTube link for live coverage of the Region 1 event https://youtu.be/1yRLn2Lg5h8

  • Region 4 – Awards Event 4-6 p.m.

YouTube link for live coverage of the Region 4 event: https://youtu.be/Xlt99l_NefE

 Sunday, March 27:

  • Region 2 - Awards Event 1-3 p.m.

YouTube link for live coverage of the Region 2 event: https://youtu.be/bssEMiPbEH0

  • Region 3 - Awards Event 4-6 p.m.

YouTube link for live coverage of the Region 3 event:


Region 1 Nominees


  • Michael Curtiss, fourth grade, Cimarron Elementary School, Cimarron-Ensign USD 102.
  • Stacy Dillinger, English language arts, Hugoton Elementary School, Hugoton USD 210.
  • Andrea Dix, math and science, Stockton Elementary School, Stockton USD 271.
  • Jennifer Fallin, fifth grade, Washington Elementary School, Geary County USD 475.
  • Angela Ferguson, math and English language arts (ELA), Garfield Elementary School, Clay County USD 379.
  • Olivia Flores, fifth grade, Prairie View Elementary School, Liberal USD 480.
  • Haylee Haynes, third grade, West Elementary School, Wamego USD 320.
  • Macey Kaiser, third grade, Ellinwood Elementary School, Ellinwood USD 355.
  • Christina Layton, fourth grade, Meadowlark Ridge Elementary School, Salina USD 305.
  • Abraham Marintzer, fifth grade, North Elementary School, Goodland USD 352.
  • Katie Nease, third grade, Concordia Elementary School, Concordia USD 333.
  • Lori Nelson, pre-K through fourth grade music, Soderstrom Elementary School, Smoky Valley USD 400.
  • Andrea Pelnar, kindergarten, Roosevelt Elementary School, McPherson USD 418.
  • Sarah Shrimplin, science, Edith Scheuerman Elementary School, Garden City USD 457.
  • Carly Torres, fifth grade, Wiley Elementary School, Hutchinson USD 308.
  • Lindsey Umscheid, first grade, Frank V. Bergman Elementary School, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383.
  • Dara Touslee, kindergarten, Park Elementary School, Great Bend USD 428.
  • Mary Trent, fourth grade, St. George Elementary School, Rock Creek USD 323.
  • Shannon Vieyra, third grade, Plum Creek Elementary School, Buhler USD 313.
  • Raquel Welch, fifth grade, Peabody-Burns Elementary School, Peabody-Burns USD 398.
  • Abbey Wiggins, science, animal science and introduction to agriculture, Emporia Middle School, Emporia USD 253.
  • Kim Yutzy, vocal, band and physical education, Yoder Charter Elementary School, Haven USD 312.


  • Jenny Acree, ELA, Concordia Junior-Senior High School, Concordia USD 333.
  • Jennifer Beesley, math, Hugoton High School, Hugoton USD 210.
  • Kristin Bellinger, ELA and reading interventionist, Rock Creek Middle School, Rock Creek USD 323.
  • Joseph Bliven, science, Great Bend Middle School, Great Bend USD 428.
  • Melanie Hammond, science, Salina High School South, Salina USD 305.
  • Erica Huggard, biology, anatomy and physiology, Emporia High School, Emporia USD 253.
  • Courtney Klassen, math, Prairie Hills Middle School, Buhler USD 313.
  • Samantha Kruse, special education (low incidence), Junction City Senior High School, Geary County USD 475.
  • Amber Pflughoeft, math, Lyons High School, Lyons USD 405.
  • Brandon Pigorsch, special education, Clay Center Community Middle School, Clay Center USD 379.
  • Rhyanna Reilly, ELA, Hutchinson High School, Hutchinson USD 308.
  • Megan Riener, vocal and instrumental music, Stockton High School, Stockton USD 271.
  • Jane Schneider, physical education, health and Career and Technical Education (CTE), Garden City High School, Garden City USD 457.
  • Brianna Siefkes, language arts and corrective reading, Wamego Middle School, Wamego USD 320.
  • Emily Stefan, vocal music teacher, Goodland Junior-Senior High School, Goodland USD 352.
  • Lorie Stein, math, Spearville Junior-Senior High School, Spearville USD 381.
  • Michelle Webber, math, Seymour Rogers Middle School, Liberal USD 480.
  • Emily Yeager, ELA, Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383.

 Region 2 Nominees


  • Ashley Blackman, social studies, Sunflower Elementary School, Paola USD 368.
  • Melani Braun, third grade, Henry Leavenworth Elementary School, Leavenworth USD 453.
  • Jennifer Gorup, library/media specialist, Quail Run Elementary School, Lawrence USD 497.
  • Heather Grady, third grade, Chanute Elementary School, Chanute USD 413.
  • Natalie Hiebert, fourth grade, Wellsville Elementary School, Wellsville USD 289.
  • Alyssa Metcalf, third grade, Berryton Elementary School, Shawnee Heights USD 450.
  • Pamela Munoz, kindergarten, McCarter Elementary School, Topeka USD 501.
  • Jennifer Pate, special education, Eudora Elementary School, Eudora USD 491.
  • Cara Thomas, kindergarten, Humboldt Elementary School, Humboldt USD 258.
  • Marcie Warner, second grade, Pauline Central Primary School, Auburn-Washburn USD 437.
  • Jeanette Weien, second grade, Sunflower Elementary School, Ottawa USD 290.


  • Melinda Armstrong, art, Washburn Rural Middle School, Auburn-Washburn USD 437.
  • Barbara Atkins, art, Robinson Middle School, Topeka USD 501.
  • Avery Ayers-Berry, art, Shawnee Heights High School, Shawnee Heights USD 450.
  • Maeve Bolin, ELA and Teaching and Training Career Pathway, Lansing High School, Lansing USD 469.
  • Jayme Breault, innovation, English and Teaching as a Career, Basehor-Linwood High School, Basehor-Linwood USD 458.
  • Kathleen Edwards, special education (adaptive), Leavenworth Senior High School, Leavenworth USD 453.
  • Stacy Henson, secondary English, Chanute High School, Chanute USD 413.
  • John Johnson, instrumental music, Eudora High School, Eudora USD 491.
  • Craig McCauley, choir, Lawrence West Middle School, Lawrence USD 497.
  • Misty Pratt, English, Paola Middle School, Paola USD 368.
  • Jaimie Swindler, special education, Ottawa Senior High School, Ottawa USD 290.
  • Thad Thurston, math, Marais Des Cygnes Valley High School, Marais Des Cygnes Valley USD 456.
  • Michael Trendel, language arts, Wellsville High School, Wellsville USD 289.
  • Marta Ward, ELA, Southeast Middle School, Cherokee USD 247.

 Region 3 Nominees


  • Valerie Anaya, kindergarten, Piper Prairie Elementary School, Piper-Kansas City USD 203.
  • Adrienne Besler, third grade, Timber Sage Elementary School, Spring Hill USD 230.
  • Elizabeth Boyle, art, Sunrise Point Elementary School, Blue Valley USD 229.
  • Kelly Newman, special education, Gardner Elementary School, Gardner Edgerton USD 231.
  • Kendal Norberg, fourth grade, Broadmoor Elementary School, Louisburg USD 416.
  • Amy Sachse, fourth grade, Corinth Elementary School, Shawnee Mission USD 512.
  • Shelly Souders, art, Mize Elementary School, De Soto USD 232.
  • Hannah Wert, third grade, Junction Elementary School, Turner USD 202.
  • Elizabeth Wing, reading and math, Delaware Ridge Elementary School, Bonner Springs USD 204.
  • Pamela Wyatt, second grade, Washington Elementary School, Olathe USD 233.


  • Amy Adam, ELA, Piper High School, Piper USD 203.
  • Jessica Gazzano, art and publications, Woodland Spring Middle School, Spring Hill USD 230.
  • Jennifer Manger, ELA, Turner High School, Turner USD 202.
  • Kassandra Miller, Spanish and English as a Second Language, Louisburg Middle School, Louisburg USD 416.
  • Carlita Pederson, music, Mill Creek Middle School, De Soto USD 232.
  • Nicholas Proctor, band, Trail Ridge Middle School, Gardner Edgerton USD 231.
  • Wraye Royle, math, Indian Hills Middle School, Shawnee Mission USD 512.
  • Kathleen Smith, video production and journalism, Olathe Northwest High School, Olathe USD 233.
  • Katherine Tankel, Spanish, Blue Valley North High School, Blue Valley USD 229.

Region 4 Nominees


  • Kerrie Bryant, ELA and social studies, Lowell Elementary School, Winfield USD 465.
  • Connor Christensen, third grade, Apollo Elementary School, Goddard USD 265.
  • Ann Decaire, second grade, Park Hill Elementary School, Derby USD 260.
  • Kendra Diaz, second grade, Maize South Elementary School, Maize USD 266.
  • Mallory Keefe, preschool, Cheney Elementary School, Cheney USD 268.
  • Courtney Maddux, third grade, Harry Street Elementary School, Wichita USD 259.
  • Allison Norris, first grade, Circle Greenwich Elementary School, Circle USD 375.
  • Krista Pollock, math, science and social studies, South Barber PreK-6, South Barber USD 255.
  • Ashley Strohm, third grade, Lincoln Elementary School, Augusta USD 402.
  • Tomara Sullivan, first grade, St. Marks School, Renwick USD 267.
  • Marci Walton, early childhood special education, Abilene Elementary School, Valley Center USD 262.
  • Allison Weide, fourth grade, Meadowlark Elementary School, Andover USD 385.


  • Brian Ball, social studies, Derby North Middle School, Derby USD 260.
  • Mindy Barr, computer science, leadership and robotics, Goddard Middle School, Goddard USD 265.
  • Brenda Beecher, chemistry, science, biology, environmental science, anatomy and physiology, South Barber 7-12, South Barber USD 255.
  • Jonathan Belsan, social studies, Coleman Middle School, Wichita USD 259.
  • James Gillett, math, introduction to engineering and robotics, Cheney High School, Cheney USD 268.
  • Cheyenne Holliday, agriculture, Andale High School, Renwick USD 257.
  • Matthew Ingrim, health and physical education, Circle High School, Circle USD 375.
  • Julie Rosenquist, English, Flinthills High School, Flinthills USD 492.
  • Audra Shelite, art and AVID, Augusta Senior High School, Augusta USD 402.
  • Jessica Shurts, science, Maize Senior High School, Maize USD 266.
  • Brian Skinner, special education (interrelated) and English, Newton Senior High School, Newton USD 373.
  • Ty Unrau, government, Teaching as a Career and video production, Valley Center High School, Valley Center USD 262.
  • Deanndra Williams, art, Winfield Middle School, Winfield USD 465.

Media Release from the Kansas Department of Education