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St. Joseph teacher awarded 'Teacher of the Year'
ell kl Lois

ammer, second and third grade teacher at St. Joseph School in Ellinwood, was recently honored as "Teacher of the Year" by the Kansas Association of Independent and Religious Schools.

Each year, KAIRS awards six teachers from across the state who represent each membership group in the association. Hammer is from the Dodge City Diocese. Other members in the groups are the Salina Diocese, Wichita Diocese, Independent Schools, Lutheran Schools, and Christian Schools.

"I was very surprised to get the award," said Hammer. "I love the Catholic education. Our classes are smaller, and there is a tremendous amount of parental support."

She also enjoys teaching in the Catholic Schools because she can bring God into any subject they are talking about. When she is teaching about kindness, she can bring Jesus into it.

In addition, "I enjoy variety every day" in education," said Hammer.

Hammer is in her 23rd year of teaching at St. Joseph Catholic School in Ellinwood.

"She is a committed teacher whose classroom environment is one that encourages students’ independent learning and individual responsibility," said Marlene Clayton, lead teacher. "She has also prepared 22 second grade classes to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist."

Hammer has also served outside school on numerous projects and helped establish Special Olympics in Barton County.

Hammer earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education at Emporia State University in 1971 and her Masters degree from Fort Hays State University in 1976. She has two children that went to Catholic schools, and her husband is a retired teacher.