This morning, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Diane DeBacker announced that Topeka High strings and mathematics teacher Kenya Patzer has been selected as a 2012 Kansas Horizon Award winner. Each year the program, sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education, recognizes exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding. Novice teachers who have successfully completed their first year of teaching are eligible to be recognized.
Patzer began teaching at THS in the fall of 2010 and completed her first year of teaching last May, making her eligible for this year’s Horizon Award. Topeka Public Schools is allowed to nominate one elementary first year teacher and one secondary first year teacher for the Horizon Award program each year. The first year teachers selected as district Distinguished Staff Award winners in the spring become Horizon Award nominees in the fall.
“Your superintendent, your principal, your colleagues, your school district saw in you, last year, something they don’t always see in every first year teacher and that is tremendous excellence and the ability to reach kids when others can’t,” says DeBacker. Topeka High principal Dr. Linda Wiley says, “I see in Kenya lots of things that don’t often come along in the same package. She’s a teacher that can do just about anything she wants to do. She is very capable and so dedicated. She’s phenomenal.”
The Kansas Horizon Award program is a regional competition. The regions correspond to the state’s four U.S. congressional districts. The Kansas State Department of Education appoints regional selection committees responsible for reviewing the nomination forms and selecting four elementary classroom teachers and four secondary classroom teachers per region for a total of 32 teachers.
All of the 2012 Kansas Horizon Award recipients will be recognized at a special luncheon during the Kansas Exemplary Educator Network (KEEN) State Education Conference in February.