1999 Kansas
Master Teachers


Michelle DiLisio**

Physical Education Teacher
USD 413 Chanute


Mary Hemphill

Elementary Art Teacher
USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden


Judy Humburg**

Fifth Grade Teacher
USD 385 Andover


Mary Porterfield

Spanish/Business Teacher
USD 352 Goodland


Linda Stelzer

Sixth Grade Reading Teacher
USD 382 Pratt


Phillip Theis

Microbology Teacher
Butler County Community College


Curt Vajnar

Agricultural Science/Driver's Education Teacher
USD 489 Hays


Andy Tompkins

Commissioner
Kansas Department of Education

Kansas Master Teacher Award


Curt Vajnar

Curt Vajnar

1999 Kansas Master Teacher

Agricultural Science/Driver's Education Instructor
Hays High School
USD 489, Hays

visit all 1999 winners

Teaching Philosophy

"I feel as students start out in school, the building of a solid foundation needs to be the focus, and as students reach the high school level, they should be allowed to sample curriculum of their interest and traditional classes should be directed to help support these interests."

Career Highlights

Vajnar took over a vocational program in 1989-90 and rebuilt it into what has been cited as one of the best in the state and one of the most modern and best equipped Agricultural Science labs in this part of the U.S. The growth of the program prompted increased resources which has provided $300,000, cutting-edge, technically advanced facility which includes classroom space, laboratory facilities, individual and small group research areas, environmental chambers, and a greenhouse.

Vajnar has coached 27 top 10 state judging teams, five of which went on to be national judging teams.  He has had 12 students obtain State FFA Degrees, three of whom have been awarded the best program in the N.W. District.  Last year's FFA Degree Winner also was named Kansas Agriculture Science Student of the Year.

One of the community service he sponsored to involve students was the landscaping of a local elementary schools, Washington Elementary.

What People Say

"I will never forget his lessons in the classroom where he has shared life experiences to help us understand how what he is teaching us can be put into future use.  He has the gift to tie everyday life into agriculture lessons that a student can translate and understand easier than a standard test book lesson." 

Lance Zimmerman, former student, president of Kansas Northwest District FFA


"He methodically incorporates reading, writing, matematics, science, the arts, public speaking, logical thinking and problem solving skills into the the vocational/agricultural knowledge provided to students and, therefore, truly teaching across the curriculum."

Kathy Spicer, parent of former student and USD 489 Board member


"The tenacity with which Mr. Vajnar approaches his task as instructor coupled with an intense enthusiasm is infectious with his students."

M. Theresa Davidson, Principal, Hays High School