Two well-deserving educators from USD 428 have been recognized for teaching excellence by being named the district’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year.
Signe Cook, fifth-grade teacher at Park Elementary School, and Stacey Magnett, seventh-grade social studies teacher at Great Bend Middle School, will advance to the Kansas Teacher of the Year competition.
“The Teacher of the Year program is a great way to recognize our outstanding teachers and to also showcase to other districts in the state what our teaching staff has to offer,” said Khris Thexton, superintendent.
“Stacey and Signe were chosen from a very strong applicant pool of nominees,” Thexton said. “I want to congratulate them on a job well done and I wish them well as this year’s USD 428 Kansas Teacher of the Year nominees.”
The recipients will be congratulated by the school board at its meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at the District Education Center.
“It is always exciting to visit (Mrs. Cook’s) classroom during the school day and in after-school clubs,” said Park Elementary School Principal Phil Heeke. “Signe loves to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.
“This week her students are coding robots to deliver items in a hospital setting,” Heeke said.
“Signe is a leader in our district piloting new curriculums that the district adopts,” he said. “She works hard to build relationships with students that promote individual student success. Signe is a phenomenal teacher.”
Cook has been teaching at Park School for three years having taught in a number of Kansas communities including Fowler, Junction City, Dighton, Lakin, Horton and Winchester for a combined 20 years.
In her application, Cook said the biggest factor that influenced her to become a teacher is the joy she has in learning new things and her desire to share that joy with others.
“I want my students to know the excitement of learning, not only while they are in my classroom, but also carry that excitement with them throughout their lives,” she said.
I believe that all students can learn, but not all in the same way,” Cook said. “Finding what works for that one child is something that motivates me as a teacher.
“I believe that showing students that they have someone who believes in them and cares about them is a big factor in their learning journey.
“I think that students should be challenged, have high expectations and be held accountable to those high expectations,” she said. “When realistic and high, purposeful goals are set students will rise up to meet the expectations.
“The biggest reason I teach is to know I have made a positive difference in someone’s life,” Cook said.
“The staff and students are all proud of Ms. Magnett and her accomplishments,” said GBMS Principal David Reiser. “She always has the best interest of students at heart and is dedicated to providing them with a great education.
“She leads by example and has co-chaired our school improvement efforts in the area of the College and Career Competencies,” Reiser said. “She has been instrumental in helping the school to incorporate them into our curriculum so that students have the skills necessary to be successful in school and their chosen careers.
“Stacey is an excellent example of what it means to be a professional educator and will represent the district with distinction as a KTOY candidate,” he said.
Magnett is a nine-year veteran teacher at the middle school. Prior to returning to her hometown to teach, the 1995 Great Bend High School graduate served as a Peace Corps English teacher volunteer in Russia and also taught at a school in New Mexico that was 97 percent Native American.
“I believe in the learning potential of all students and want to inspire them to get out and explore the world,” Magnett said in her application.
“To do this we strive to respect other cultures and traditions and try to be less judgmental at first glance,” she said. “The expectations are set in my classroom and my students generally rise to the occasion.
“The best part of my job is getting to make connections with students,” Magnett said. “I enjoy greeting each student as they come into my room and checking in with them.
“If I can make a difference in the lives of students and encourage them to try new things and never give up on their dreams, then I am doing what I was meant to do as an educator.
“I am fulfilled knowing students enjoy my class and I strive to continue evolving as an educator to make sure that happens,” she said.