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Great Bend grad receives first-year teaching accolades
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Working to meet the individual needs of her students, Bayse-Hotujac enjoys a class huddle with her first-grade students at Berryton Elementary School in Topeka.

Great Bend native and USD 428 alumna Olivia Bayse-Hotujac was named a Horizon Award winner by the Kansas Department of Education on January 8. Bayse-Hotujac is a first-grade teacher at Berryton Elementary School in Topeka. 

“Winning the Horizon Award is a huge honor to myself and my family,” said Bayse-Hotujac. “Coming from a family of educators, this means so much to all of us. Having my mom, Linda Basye as a role model, as well as all of the amazing teachers I had growing up, made me into the teacher I am today.”

When asked to reflect and speculate on the unique teaching practices and strategies that might have earned her the award, Bayse-Hotujac said, “I use a variety of different strategies in my classroom to reach the individual needs of my students. I’ve learned that establishing positive relationships with students is the only way students will truly learn from me, so I strive to connect with each student, every day. It makes it easier to teach them when I take the time to learn how they learn, interact with others, and what motivates them to do their best.”

Bayse-Hotujac attended Eisenhower Elementary School and Great Bend Middle School before graduating from Great Bend High School in 2012. She received her Associate Degree in Science from Barton Community College before graduating from Washburn University in May of 2017. In addition to teaching full time, Bayse-Hotujac is pursuing a Masters in Administration degree from Baker University.

She will formally accept the Horizon Award at a banquet in February and will also be given the opportunity to attend the KEEN (Kansas Exemplary Educators Network) State Conference in Topeka this spring. The Horizon Award recognizes first-year teachers whose performance sets them apart from their peers. She is one of 32 distinguished teachers who will receive the award from thousands nominated across the state.