2000 Winner

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Deborah B. Wertin

Third Grade Team Teacher
USD 229, Stilwell Elementary School
Overland Park, KS

Teaching Philosophy

"Meaningful teaching and a lasting education are about building relationships.  The relationships we build with students, parents, and colleagues are the very heart of a life-long education and what is truly important in the world . . . The classroom environment should always be a place where my students feel safe and at ease to take risks in learning.  This safe place is one where the students know each idea has value, thinking will not be judged, and corrections are made in a positive and encouraging way.  The classroom is a place where a student can reach for a life preserver.  Every student has the right to guidance and to learn strategies that will allow him or her to be successful in their future learning."

Honors and Awards

Master Teacher Candidate
Stilwell PTO Grant, Literature to Enhance the Curriculum
Stilwell PTO Grant, Money Manipulatives
Stilwell PTO Grant, "Mysteries" in Reading
Blue Valley Excellence in Education

What People Say

"After leaving Stilwell Elementary, going through middle school, high school, and
even college, I kept in touch with Deb Wertin.  She was one reason I aspired to  take on the career of teaching, to touch children's lives in the way that she touched mine.  I called her for encouragement and guidance as I pursued my own degree.  I will strive to have the knowledge, commitment, and passion for teaching that Mrs. Wertin has." 

Kristen Hedberg, former student


"Mrs. Wertin has not just touched my life, but the lives of every student that she has ever had and I know she will continue to do so.  Her ability to teach and reach out to her students to show them how to love, care, to show determination and to strive for all the things that you want in your life.  To a fourth-grade student, it doesn't mean much right then, but the love and support will shine through, throughout their whole life, as it has in mine and continues to do so."

Karla King, former student


"Each morning when Deb Wertin steps into our classroom, I can tell by the twinkle in her eye and the smile on her face that there is not a better job in the world for her than teaching.  There is a place in Deb's heart for each student." 

Jami Tarwater, third-grade team teacher, Stilwell Elementary School