By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cook named Teacher of the Year finalist
A Cappella Choir trip to D.C. approved
Great Bend teacher Signe Cook, left, stands with USD 428 Board of Education member Susan Young at Monday’s school board meeting. Cook is one of two regional teachers named finalists for Kansas Teacher of the Year.

Park Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Signe A. Cook was named a Region 1 finalist for the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year awards during a ceremony Saturday, Sept. 8, in Salina. This award from the Kansas State Department of Education recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms.

Cook was honored by the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education at Monday’s Board meeting.

Cook was one of two teachers honored by USD 428 last April, when she was chosen as the district’s Elementary Teacher of the Year. At that time, Stacey Magnett, seventh-grade social studies teacher at Great Bend Middle School, was named USD 428’s Secondary Teacher of the Year.

As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Cook and Jennifer S. Brown, a first-grade teacher in Geary County, each received a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, the major corporate partner for the program. 

In addition, they are each now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, which will be announced during ceremonies in Wichita on Nov. 17.

Cook teaches mathematics, science, English language arts interventions, keyboarding and social-emotional classes in Great Bend. She and Brown were among six Teacher of the Year semi-finalists from KSDE’s Region 1, which covers the First U.S. congressional district.

“It’s not often you get that honor,” Superintendent Khris Thexton said.

“I am very proud to teach in Great Bend,” Cook told the school board on Monday.

Title grant allocation approved

In action items Monday, the board approved the Local Consolidated Plan Allocation totaling $1,143,054 for 2018-2019 federal Title programs. This was $31,020 less than last year’s allocation. USD 428 Director of Teaching and Learning Trish Reiser said the funds for Title I C migrant programs was down, but there were more funds this year for Title III A, supporting effective instruction, and for Title IV A, which includes grants for student support and academic enrichment.

Programs and amounts received were: Title I A, improving education programs, $765,604; Title I C, $154,000;

Title II A, supporting effective instruction, $127,243; Title III A, $52,007; and Title IV A, $44,200.

Grants and contributions

The board approved grant applications and contributions:

• Credit Union of America has contributed $1,300 to the district. Funds may be used at the superintendent’s discretion for the benefit of students.

• Dana Wilson, school nurse at Helping Hands Preschool, will apply for a Walmart Community Giving Grant for Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) hearing screening equipment. Similar to vision screening equipment previously acquired, this is a hearing-screening tool used for preschool children. The value of the grant is $4,594.

• Tina Hiss, GBHS math teacher, will apply for a grant from the Association of American Educators to purchase four or five graphing calculators to check out overnight to students who cannot afford to purchase one.

Choir and orchestra requests

The board approved a spring break trip for the Great Bend High School A Cappella Choir to Washington, D.C. Students pay the cost of this trip, explained Susan Stambaugh, director of vocal music. By changing the dates of the trip from Tuesday through Sunday to Wednesday through Monday, students will miss a day of school after spring break but the cost of air travel will be reduced considerably.

The board also agreed that GBHS will take a turn hosting the Western Kansas Orchestra Festival in November of 2019. This will require a change in the 2019-2020 school calendar because classes will dismiss early on a Friday as the school prepares to host more than 700 orchestra students from area high schools west of U.S. 81.

BOE meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting:

• Approved the Local Consolidated Plan Allocation of $1.1 million for 2018-2019’s federal Title programs.

• Approved the GBHS A Cappella Choir Spring Break trip to Washington, D.C., in 2019.

• Approved a 2019-2020 calendar change to allow early dismissal of GBHS classes Nov. 15, 2019, when Great Bend hosts the Western Kansas Orchestra Festival.

• Approved Site Council members.

• Heard the assistant superintendent’s report from John Popp. Topics were: District postsecondary progress data; new teacher mentor program; Visible Learning professional development; Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) update; personnel update; curriculum meeting minutes; curriculum steering committee; Professional Development Council minutes.

• Heard the superintendent’s report from Khris Thexton. Topics were: Fire Safety and Awareness Week, October 7-13; Bus Safety Week, October 15-19; start of school; enrollment numbers update; ACT update; Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Breakfast Initiative Grant; Kansas Teacher of the Year banquet; school open houses; Homecoming activities; Great Bend Reading Initiative kickoff; Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) Fall Regional Meeting; and approval of grants and contributions.

• Reviewed upcoming events: KASB Fall Regional Meeting, September 25 in Pratt; BOE luncheon meeting,noon on September 27 at Riley Elementary School; GBHS Homecoming with Dodge City on September 21, (3 p.m. parade); Education Foundation Dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 13, at the Great Bend Events Center; Annual KASB Convention Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 in Overland Park.