Two well-deserving educators from Great Bend USD 428 have been recognized for teaching excellence by being named the district’s Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year.
Jenna Dreiling, first-grade teacher at Riley Elementary School, and Cortnea Wilson, eighth-grade science teacher at Great Bend Middle School, will advance to the 2020 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 the innovative teaching methods and programs our teachers provide to our students, district and community,” said Khris Thexton, superintendent.
“Jenna and Cortnea were chosen from a very strong pool of candidates,” Thexton said. “I want to congratulate them on a job well done. We are confident that they will represent our district well as the 2019-2020 USD 428 Kansas Teacher of the Year nominees.”
The Board of Education will congratulated these outstanding teachers at its meeting regular monthly meeting, scheduled for Monday, April 8 at 5pm at the District Education Center.
Jenna Dreiling, Elementary Nominee – Kansas Teacher of the Year
“A cheerful smile and positive attitude might be Jenna’s most obvious attributes,” said Riley School Principal JoAnn Blevins, “but when you look into her classroom, what sets her apart is her ability to truly listen to her students, validate their thoughts and feelings, and make each student feel special every single day.”
“This year, Mrs. Dreiling has embraced making her classroom trauma-responsive. She has set up different avenues for students to express themselves and advocate for their needs in positive ways. Her students are able to resolve conflict with one another more easily and focus on learning.”
“Mrs. Dreiling builds community and collaboration with the people who work around her,” said Blevins. “She mentors new teachers and invites colleagues into her classroom, as well as asking questions and communicating well with others. She wants to see others be successful.”
Dreiling earned a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education K-6 with a minor in Special Education from Fort Hays State University, and later a Master’s in Science Education with an endorsement in English for Speakers of other Languages from Newman University. She began her teaching career at USD 232 De Soto, Kan. at Riverview Elementary. After her first year of teaching, she returned to Great Bend to Riley Elementary School where she has been teaching first-grade for 10 years. Dreiling serves on the Trauma Informed Team at Riley Elementary as well as the English Language Arts committee, and MTSS team (multi-tier system of support). At the district level, Dreiling serves on the Cirriculum Steering Committee and Healthy Living Committee.
In speaking of her teaching philosophy, Dreiling explains that her experience as a first-grade student herself is one thing that guides her teaching practices today.
“It was my teacher that noticed early in the year that I was struggling. She knew my ability and knew I could succeed. She sought out the right tools, created a plan with my parents, and set me on the path of success.
“All students are unique and should be given an education based on their needs and abilities,” said Dreiling. “I work to create a positive and caring classroom environment, as well as build relationships with my students that allow for their individual success.
“Watching my students advance on their educational path and celebrating their accomplishments is the largest reward any educator could hope for,” Dreiling said.
Cortnea Wilson, Secondary Nominee – Kansas Teacher of the Year
“The staff and students are all proud of Mrs. Wilson and her accomplishments,” said GBMS Principal David Reiser. “Preparing students for life after high school, she is leading our building in integrating college and career competencies into her daily instruction.
“She helps lead our College and Career Competencies school improvement committee that is focused on the skills kids need to be successful,” Reiser said. “She is a great collaborator, actively sharing her expertise and classroom methods with colleagues for the benefit of our students and goals.
“The enthusiastic reaction from her students speaks volumes about Mrs. Wilson’s impact and reputation. We know she will represent USD 428 well in the state competition,” he said.
Wilson is an eight-year veteran teacher at the middle school. Wilson returned to her hometown to teach after graduating from Sterling College with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. She earned a Master’s in Education from Fort Hays State University in 2016 while teaching full-time. Wilson serves on the GBMS Building Leadership Team, MTSS Implementation Team and is co-chair of the College and Career Competencies School Improvement Team.
“I believe my greatest contribution to education is providing students with opportunity to become problem solvers, work cooperatively with others, find their own strengths through goal setting all while covering science curriculum,” Wilson said in her application.
“I find the ‘ah-ha’ moment very rewarding,” she said. “Seeing a student’s face light-up with pride because they mastered a skill or came up with a solution to a problem is a one of a kind feeling.
“To see a student beaming with pride after accomplishing a goal, witnessing growth in my students – that’s the most rewarding part of my job,” said Wilson.