Distinguished Classroom Teacher Awards
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. The deadline for 2021 nominations was noon on January 22.
A selection committee made up of teachers, school and district-level administrators, the executive directors 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 $20 in PTR Bucks to be used at Parent Teacher Resources. Their schools also receive a commemorative banner featuring their award-winning teacher.
The 2021 Distinguished Classroom Teacher Award honorees were surprised with news of their awards on March 17 by Board of Education members, district leaders and their family members.
This year's honorees in their respective categories include:
Alexandra Stamps, 5th grade teacher at McLean Science & Technology Magnet Elementary – New Teacher, Elementary
Runner up: Jesse Millspaugh, 4th grade teacher at Dodge Literacy Magnet Elementary
Kelsey Potter, 7th grade science teacher at Stucky Middle School – New Teacher, Secondary category
Runner up: Jamie Smartt, 6th grade language arts teacher at Brooks Center for STEM and Arts Magnet Middle School.
Kelli Phimsiprasom, 1st grade teacher at Linwood Elementary School – Primary (Grades Pre-K – 2) category
Runner up: Dana Tisdale, kindergarten teacher at Gordon Parks Academy
Courtney Maddux, 3rd grade teacher at Harry Street Elementary – Intermediate (Grades 3 – 5) category
Runner up: Jerusha Willenborg, 3rd grade teacher at Gordon Parks Academy
Jonathan Belsan, 6th-8th grade social studies teacher at Coleman Middle School – Middle School category
Runner up: Claire Overstake, 6th grade science teacher at Stucky Middle School
Crystal Firestone, 9th-12th grade mixed abilities teacher at Northwest High School – High School category
Runner up: Chitra Harris, 9th-12th grade science teacher at South High School
Mike Williams, physical education teacher at Colvin Elementary – Support Teacher, Elementary category
Runner up: Kristen Mott, MTSS Facilitator at Harry Street Elementary School
Heather Manganiello, social worker at Hamilton Middle School – Support Teacher, Secondary category
Runner up: Kellie Loudermilk, data leader at Wilbur Middle School
To see a video about the surprise visits, click here.
To see pictures of the honorees, click here.
Distinguished Classroom Teachers 2020
2020 Distinguished Classroom Teachers (back row) Denise Van Horn, Leigh Kasper, Sam Belsan, Darham Rogers and Afton Miller; (front row) Tiffany Peterson, Lisa Reeb and Catherine Busick.
Distinguished Classroom Teachers 2019
2019 Distinguished Classroom Teachers (left to right) Keely PJ Tolbert, Ashley Cavazos, Kimberly Knox, Cathy Boote, Kate Skinner, Susan Moore and Sarah Gegen.