Kansas Master Teacher Award Program
Second Grade Teacher
Sunrise Point Elementary
USD 229, Blue Valley
“Sandy doesn’t just teach children, she touches their lives,” writes Deneise McGowan, a teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages and fellow teacher at Sunrise Point Elementary School in Overland Park.
McGowan tells the story of a student, now in high school in Texas, who had Gonsher in second grade. He called to tell Gonsher that he was on track to graduate from high school and planned to graduate from college — both firsts in his family.
“He also told her … he hasn’t forgotten how much she cared about him.”
The care Gonsher shows her students extends to finding creative activities that help their learning. Every year, she teaches her students to play chess. She develops individual spelling tests with words like “penultimate,” ‘obstreperous” and “equanimity.” The students study master artists throughout the year. Their writing journals and exercises turn into an author celebration at the end of the year.
“I teach every subject through the lens of an artist/scientist,” said Gonsher. “Creativity plays a major role in the product outcomes. Poetry, classical music, performance and visual art enhance and impact student learning while preparing students for success in the innovation economy they are a part of.”
Writes Alison Paddock, a third-grade teacher at Sunrise Point, “Sandy is a born teacher. She couldn’t be anything else. Some people just ARE their profession. Sandy is and will always be, first and foremost, a teacher.”
Gonsher’s teaching methods touch both her students and their parents.
“I think the most important things I learned were to always love learning new things and to always be the best person that I can be,” wrote a former student, now in fifth grade.
Finally, from a parent who teaches at a different school: “To have been taught by Mrs. Gonsher is to be changed as a learner. To be a parent of a child taught by Mrs. Gonsher is to be a changed parent.”
Gonsher earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from University of Missouri-Kansas City and has earned continuing education credit from Baker University and Graceland University.