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Kansas Teachers of the Year
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Deena Smith, Kansas Teacher of the Year elementary school designee from USD 428, is congratulated by her second graders at Park school

With close to 300 classroom teachers in the USD 428 education pool, it’s not hard to come up with a couple of good teachers. However, last week two teachers rose to the top and were recognized as Kansas Teacher of the Year nominees.
Deena Smith, Park School second-grade teacher, and Tami Schepmann, Great Bend Middle School reading and ESL teacher, were selected by a committee of their peers for outstanding excellence in education. The local designees will represent the district in the 2015-16 KTOY program.
“We are very fortunate to have such high-caliber teachers here in Great Bend,” said Brad Reed, superintendent. “We support the Kansas Teacher of the Year program that recognizes excellence such as theirs. We wish both of them well as they apply for the state honors.”
Deena Smith has taught for 14 years total, 11 in her current position at Park School. She started her career in Great Bend as a substitute teacher for four years while she earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Newman University.
About her career in education, Smith says, “I firmly believe that every day should be met with excitement and energy. It is my responsibility to begin the school day on a positive note.”
“It is crucial for the students to know that I am engaged in the subject matter and therefore they are expected to be as well. The facial expression of a lesson finally grasped or a hug from a child confirming that they know are my greatest rewards as an educator,” Smith wrote in her application.
Tami Schepmann has taught for 10 years total, seven in her current position at GBMS. She earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Emporia State University and her master of science degree in youth development from Kansas State University.
About her career in education, Schepmann says, “I spend time in classrooms supporting students who are struggling and also collaborating with teachers to ensure student growth and success.”
“The greatest accomplishment for me is the personal success stories of the students and the newfound confidence they display. Nothing is more rewarding than watching a student master skills and be excited about their hard-earned success,” Schepmann wrote in her application.
School board members will acknowledge the teachers at the 5 p.m. on April 13 at the school board meeting.