Teacher of the Year delegation visits students

January 28, 2013

Colleen Mitchell, right, answers a question during a news conference. Mitchell is an Emporia State alum as are Judy Domke, left, and Scott Keltner. The three teachers were part of the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year delegation that visited campus.Technology in the classroom, armed security guards and more diverse student populations were topics on the table Monday, Jan. 28 when the Kansas Teacher of the Year delegation visited Emporia State University.

The eight teachers from Andover, Baxter Springs, Blue Valley, Buhler, Emporia, Eudora, Haysville and Leavenworth school districts spent their day with students training to become teachers. The group shared their experiences in the classroom and offered ways to help students connect curriculum with real-world experiences.

Technology is especially helpful, said Dyane Smokorowski, the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year. “We’re teaching children to connect with experts,” she said. “That’s fantastic.”

Students today also are interacting with different cultures as their classrooms become more diverse communities. “We’re a global community,” said Smokorowski, noting that her students may become engineers who work on projects with engineers on the other side of the world.

The group hopes that an increased emphasis on character education in curriculum will combat violence in schools.

“Having security guards with guns is not going to keep what happened (in Newtown) from happening,” said Colleen Mitchell, who teaches at Walnut Elementary School in Emporia.

The group also toured the National Teachers Hall of Fame, which is housed in Emporia State’s Teachers College.

For three teachers, the visit was a homecoming. Judy Domke of Blue Valley, Scott Kettner of Eudora and Colleen Mitchell of Emporia earned their education degrees from Emporia State.

They all hoped their visit encouraged future teachers.

“This is the best profession in the world,” said Sue Commons, who teaches at Baxter Spring High School. “We get to touch lives every day.”

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