2013 Winner

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Juliann BlieseJuliann Bliese

First-grade Teacher
Ravenwood Elementary School
USD 233, Olathe

The laughter and excitement of first-grade students is as precious to Juliann Bliese today as it was 30 years ago when she began teaching.

“It is my job as a teacher to excite, encourage, guide, challenge, celebrate and question everything along with my students,” said Bliese. “My students continue to teach me what’s important.”

Bliese fills her classroom with activity and often asks herself if she were a child, would she want to be in this classroom.

“My personal teaching style incorporates movement, music, singing, chanting, drama, cooperative learning activities and exploration with lots of questions,” said Bliese. “Nature and the world around us is utilized to involve my students in inquiry.”

During Bliese’s career, her students’ projects have included creating butterfly gardens, planting a summer vegetable garden, using the Internet to talk with astronauts and collecting books for homeless children.

“Julie is one of those rare teachers all parents hope their children will be lucky enough to have at least once in their elementary career,” writes Karen Thompson, school counselor at Ravenwood Elementary.

Added Tanya Channell, a former principal, “She discovers the strengths in each child and works toward helping them learn through those individual strengths. … She helps the students gain pride in their own accomplishments, and they continue to develop more and more skills.”

One former student recalls how difficult it was to step into Bliese’s kindergarten classroom.

“Not only was I the quiet little girl who cried when my mother left me, but I was the girl whom Mrs. Bliese carefully coaxed to the reading mat with love and affection.”

Now a sophomore in college, the girl recalls the two years she spent in Bliese’s classroom in kindergarten and first grade and the impact that time had on her.

“My love of learning extended beyond her classroom and into my future career as I pursue an agricultural education degree.,” she wrote. “She instilled in me the love that a teacher should have for her job and her students.”

Bliese earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a master’s degree in early childhood handicapped from Fort Hays State University, national certification from Emporia State

University and is working toward a doctoral degree in educational leaderships from Baker University.

She has taught in schools in Council Bluff, Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; and Hays and Olathe in Kansas.