Ashley Riley has her sights set on the horizon...the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Horizon Award, specifically. Riley, a special education teacher at Eisenhower School, has been nominated for the prestigious award by her principal, Tricia Reiser. “Ashley is a valued member of our Eisenhower staff,” Reiser said. “She has amazing rapport with her students and she is dynamic about meeting their academic and social needs. “She has enhanced our program and she plays an integral part on our special education and Eisenhower team,” she said. The recognition is sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association. It identifies and recognizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. The mission of the program is to recognize exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding. “I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, so seemed a bit surreal when I began to prepare my very first classroom,” Riley wrote in her application. “I began by decorating my room, setting up my behavior management system, and planning lessons and activities. It is important that a first-year teacher be organized and prepared, but it is equally important that they also be flexible. “One thing first-year teachers will learn beginning the first day of school is that their plans will change,” she wrote. “As you meet your students you almost immediately begin decoding their needs, wants and academic abilities, all of which affect what you have planned for the year.” As a second-year teacher now, Riley advises novices to “make your classroom fun and make your students laugh. Joke, act silly, play and let loose. Just because students are laughing and smiling doesn’t mean there isn’t learning going on. “No one said learning must be all seriousness,” she noted. “In fact, the more students are having fun, the more engaged they will be and the more they will learn. You chose teaching as your profession to brighten the minds of children, but don’t forget to brighten up their faces with a smile.”
The Kansas Cable Telecommunications Horizon Program is a regional competition. The regions correspond to the state’s four congressional districts. The Kansas State Department of Education will appoint regional selection committees responsible for reviewing the nomination forms and selecting four elementary classroom teachers and four secondary classroom teachers per region for a total of 32 teachers.