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Kansas Master Teacher Award Program


2004 Winner

(visit 2004 winners home page)


 Patricia GrzendaPatricia Grzenda

Adaptive Physical Education Teacher
Lawrence Public Schools
USD 497, Lawrence

Teaching Philosophy

"I am blessed to teach students with mild to profound cognitive and physical disabilities. . . .In the area that I teach, it is imperative that we find the student's strength(s) and build on that strength.  It is often difficult to find even one strength in, say, a student with a severe cognitive disability who uses a power wheelchair and is fed through a gastric tube.  But, there are strengths there, to be sure.  That student desires and needs to be successful at his or her level each and every day of their life.  Those strengths are certainly going to look different for each child, and it is my responsibility as their Adaptive Physical Education teacher to find that strength and build on it.  In the area of Physical Education, it is our task to promote the health, strength, and physical fitness of all our students.  It just looks a bit different for the students that I serve."

A role model for her students, Mrs. Grzenda is active in numerous community service groups, including the United Way and the Arc of Douglas County.

Honors and Awards

2003 Lawrence Public Schools Master Teacher
2002 Legacy Award--Lawrence Public Schools and KU Credit Union
2001 National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association Merit Award--Completion of Service
2000-01 Coach of the Year, Kansas Coaches Association, Boys' Swimming
1999-02 National Federation of High Schools Swimming and Diving Rules Committee
1998 National Coach of the Year, National Federation of High Schools
1996-97 Coach of the Year, Kansas Coaches Association, Boys' Swimming

What People Say

Taken from a letter from the Motor Team, which consists of three Occupational Therapists, one Physical Therapist and Assistive Technology Specialist/Speech Pathologist and a Motor Assistant,  "Pat doesn't just "work" with a student or a swimmer.  She becomes a mentor, a motivator and a friend.  Students and their families become lifelong friends.  Adults in their 30s that once were children that Pat worked with come back to Lawrence yearly and get together with her for lunch.  It isn't just a job for pat, she is truly committed to providing the best and expecting the best.  Along with this comes a great deal of success, lifelong connections and the respect of her colleagues and families.  Pat could be successful in anything she decided to do, and could probably be earning a great deal more money in another field.  How fortunate the staff and students of Lawrence Public Schools are to have her here."--Cindy Brickell, Paige Buckingham, Robin Demby, Leslie McFarland, Ruth Anne Sneegas


Student Carli Paulson writes, "Mrs. Grzenda works with me during swimming class.  She always encourages me to do my best.  Just a few months ago I was swimming 12 laps.  I am proud to report today, I am up to 20 and Mrs. Grzenda is now telling me she knows I can do a few more.  I guess I will just have to believe her because she has believed in me over the years and never led me astray." 


Barbara and Michael Malone write, "As teachers, we admire her professionalism and competence; as long time friends we admire her sincerity and commitment. . . . Each time we see Pat, she engages us in her work.  Whether she is talking about some student's break through or a new policy that allows her to offer more stimulating activities, Pat is passionate and positive about her demanding and stressful work.  Through her words and actions she serves as a model for other teachers to emulate."