Ashley Cavazos poses with her kindergarten students at Cloud Elementary School after receiving a 2017 Distinguished Classroom Teacher Award on Friday. Suzanne Perez Tobias The Wichita Eagle
Ashley Cavazos poses with her kindergarten students at Cloud Elementary School after receiving a 2017 Distinguished Classroom Teacher Award on Friday. Suzanne Perez Tobias The Wichita Eagle

Education

Wichita school district names Distinguished Classroom Teachers

By Suzanne Perez Tobias

stobias@wichitaeagle.com

February 24, 2017 03:31 PM

Seven Wichita teachers were surprised in their classrooms or during schoolwide assemblies Friday with news that they received the 2017 Distinguished Classroom Teacher Award from the Wichita school district.

“I see teaching as a calling,” said Kimberly Knox, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Truesdell Middle School, who was named the district’s middle school teacher of the year.

“You have to love kids, and you have to remember that they are little human beings,” said Knox, in her 22nd year of teaching. “I just try to keep that in perspective.”

You have to love kids, and you have to remember that they are little human beings. I just try to keep that in perspective.

Kimberly Knox, sixth-grade teacher at Truesdell Middle School

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At Northwest High School, math teacher Sarah Gegen was surprised with balloons, treats and a parade of family members and colleagues during one of her pre-calculus classes Friday morning.

“I’ve never met a teacher that’s so dedicated to teaching and helping,” said Shanice Gitungo, a junior. “There’s not even words I can use to describe how much I’ve learned from Ms. Gegen.”

The teachers were nominated for the award by peers, building administrators or parents. Winners were selected by a committee that includes principals, assistant principals, teachers, support staff, assistant superintendents and a member of United Teachers of Wichita.

This year for the first time, one school – Christa McAuliffe Academy, a K-8 school in southeast Wichita – boasted three award winners.

Recipients of the district’s 2017 Distinguished Classroom Teacher Awards are:

▪ New teacher, elementary: Ashley Cavazos, kindergarten teacher at Cloud Elementary

▪ New teacher, secondary: Keely “P.J.” Tolbert, seventh-grade language arts teacher, Truesdell Middle School

▪ Primary teacher (grades pre-K-2): Cathy Boote, kindergarten teacher at Christa McAuliffe Academy

▪ Intermediate teacher (grades 3-5): Katherine Skinner, fifth-grade teacher, Christa McAuliffe Academy

▪ Middle school: Kimberly Knox, sixth-grade language arts teacher, Truesdell Middle School

▪ High school: Sarah Gegen, math teacher at Northwest High School

▪ Support teacher: Susan Moore, structured learning teacher at Christa McAuliffe Academy

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias