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USD 428 teachers of the year
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Shelly Post and Tom Vernon

It was April Fool’s Day, but it certainly was no joke when Shelly Post and Kayci (Scott) Strickland learned that they have been named as USD 428 teachers of the year for the 2014-15 school year.
Post, a 27-year veteran teacher at Helping Hands Preschool, and Strickland, a Great Bend High School English teacher in her eighth year, were tapped for the local honor and are now eligible to compete in the Kansas Teacher of the Year program.
The two are being recognized for their efforts in the classroom and community through nomination and selection by their peers. The program not only honors the teaching profession, but it encourages excellence in education.
Tom Vernon, superintendent of schools, said he is pleased with the selection of teachers that run the breadth from 3- and 4-year old special education students to advanced placement high school seniors.
“Shelly is a wonderful teacher, a great representative of our profession and devoted to those special children that she serves,” Vernon said.
“Kayci is a strong teacher with great rapport with her students and colleagues,” he added. “She serves as a great example to her students.”
As elementary and secondary teachers of the year, Post and Strickland will receive $500 from the district for use in their classroom and will be honored at the April 14 school board meeting.
Shelly Post
“I absolutely love young children and in reality would rather be around children than adults,” Post wrote in her application. “I love to teach young children; they are so excited to learn new skills.
“I enjoy the opportunity to start them on their journey of learning with skills that will help them succeed and flourish in their educational experience,” she said. “I believe our school provides the students we serve the needed foundation for learning.
“Everything we do has a purpose in building the skills each child needs to succeed. I delight in learning new techniques to improve my teaching skills,” Post said.  
“I strive to advance my students skills to the highest level of their potential while at the same time keeping school fun for them,” Post said. “I cherish the opportunity to accomplish this on a personal level with each student.”
Kayci Strickland
“I believe all students should be given an opportunity to acquire knowledge and be themselves in an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable,” Strickland wrote in her application.
“On the first day of class, I express to my students that my classroom atmosphere reflects that of a family, Strickland said. “I encourage them to disagree with one another and to challenge each other’s thinking while maintaining a respectful and mature attitude.
“It is incredibly rewarding to watch my students transform over the school year as they not only tolerate, but learn to appreciate one another’s differences.  
“I realize that every day teachers are given countless opportunities to make a difference in the life of a young adult,” she said. “To me, this is the best part of teaching.
“I want my students to understand and appreciate the mechanics of language, the conventions of self-expression and the beauty of literature, but I also want to help mold them into responsible and productive members of our society,” Strickland said.
“The most rewarding part of my job is receiving a word of thanks from a student whose life I have impacted,” she said. “It reminds me why I became a teacher and why I love my profession.”