Wichita teachers surprised with awards

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -

Seven Wichita Public Schools teachers from seven different schools were surprised in their classrooms Wednesday with the distinguished classroom teacher award for their excellent teaching.

Celebrations were one after the other throughout the day starting at 7:30 a.m. and going until 2:30 p.m. Wichita Public Schools employees gathered at each school before their celebration. They walked the halls to the teachers classroom, walked through the door and surprised them with a goody bag, and a banner with their picture on it.

One teacher said she was surprised by the award and she made a face time call to her mother in class afterward.

"Overwhelmed and really humbled," said Ashley Reichenborn, music teacher at Buckner Performing Arts and Science Magnet. "Surprised, all of the above."

The list of winners are as follows: Nicole Herrera, instructional coach at Mayberry Cultural and Fine Arts Magnet; Taylor Offerie, math teacher at Wichita Heights High School; Ashley Reichenborn, music teacher at Buckner Performing Arts and Science Magnet; Allison Drake, third grade teacher at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet; Chasmyn Lindeman-Thimesch, fourth grade teacher at Cloud Elementary School; Ann Burgett, English teacher at Northwest High School; Patric Jackson, physical education teacher at Gordon Parks Academy; Marnie Baxter, second grade teacher at McCollom Elementary School.

Each teacher was in a specific category according to Robert Garner, the executive director of secondary schools.

"We have a secondary category, and a support teacher category at the secondary level," said Garner. "We then have the elementary categories. There are two categories there. Kindergarten through second grade, and then third through fifth. There's also a support teacher category for the elementary."

He said the secondary category is for middle and high school whereas the elementary is for elementary schools only.

Susan Arensman said co-workers or parents usually send in applications for the award, then the teacher is monitored by Wichita Public School Board employees in class where they look for different things.

"You know, they look for lots of different things," said Arensman. "Interactions with them, the content the rigor. Obviously if the students are learning or having a good time in the classroom and so there's all sorts of different pieces of that."

Nicole Herrera, instructional coach at Mayberry Cultural and Fine Arts Magnet, said she was thankful for the award, but she is more thankful to help kids grow academically.

"It has to start with the kids, you know," she said. "This is my nineteenth year in 259 and I started as a classroom teacher and I fell in love with just the idea of, you know, helping kids attain their goals and it's fun to be able to see them change and grow."

The winners will be recognized again March 25 at a school board meeting.