Distinguished Classroom Teacher Awards

Photo 2020 Distinguished Classroom Teachers
  • The Distinguished Classroom Teacher Award program recognizes outstanding teachers who affect the quality of education in the Wichita Public Schools. It is the highest award bestowed by the district on its teaching staff.


    Each year, awards are given in eight different categories - new teacher (elementary), new teacher (secondary), primary (Pre-K through 2), intermediate (3 through 5), middle school, high school, support (elementary) and support (secondary) teachers.


    Anyone can nominate a teacher for this prestigious award. The nomination form must be completed in collaboration with the teacher-nominee and submitted by the announced deadlines. 

    A selection committee made up of teachers, school and district-level administrators, the assistant superintendents of elementary and secondary schools and a member of the United Teachers of Wichita reviews the nominations and makes the final selections.


    The award recipients are recognized by the Board of Education and each receives a crystal award and a $20 purchasing card to be used at Parent Teacher Resources. Their schools also receive a commemorative banner featuring their award-winning teacher.


    The 2020 Distinguished Classroom Teacher Award recipients in their respective categories are:

    • Afton Miller, fourth-grade teacher, Harry Street Elementary School - New Teacher, Elementary. Watch her video here. 
    • Samuel Belsan, social studies teacher, Coleman Middle School - New Teacher, Secondary. Watch his video here. 
    • Lisa Reeb, kindergarten teacher, Colvin Elementary School - Primary Teacher. Watch her video here. 
    • Catherine Klunder, fifth-grade teacher, Harry Street Elementary School - Intermediate Teacher. Watch her video here. 
    • Denise Van Horn, math pre-IB teacher, Robinson Middle School - Middle School Teacher. Watch her video here. 
    • Darham Rogers, World/US History and AVID teacher, East High School - High School Teacher. Watch his video here. 
    • Tiffany Peterson, music teacher, Woodman Elementary School - Support Teacher, Elementary. Watch her video here.
    • Leigh Kasper, counselor, Hamilton Middle School - Support Teacher, Secondary. Watch her video here.


    The teachers were surprised with the news of their selection by Board members, district administrators and members of the selection committee.

    Link to video of the surprise visits 

    Link to news story about the surprise visits

    The teachers were recognized at the March 9, 2020 Board of Education meeting during which time, video profiles of the teachers were shown. It was also announced that Afton Miller and Samuel Belsan will be the district's nominees for the Kansas Horizon Award which honors new teachers and that Catherine Klunder and Darham Rogers will represent the Wichita Public Schools for the prestigious Kansas Teacher of the Year Award program. 

    Link to the news story about the Board recognition ceremony and individual videos of the honorees.

    Link to see a list of prior award honorees.