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The Work of Honoring Educators

October 4, 2017

The Kansas Master Teacher program, which has been honoring teachers for 65 years, recently updated the criteria by which teachers are selected for the award. The program is based out of The Teachers College at Emporia State University.

“We wanted to better reflect the breadth and depth of teaching excellence throughout the state,” said Ken Weaver, dean of The Teachers College at Emporia State. “So, we started with a simple question, ‘What truly describes a master teacher?’”

The new criteria were designed to give a clear picture of teaching excellence in the context of district demographics and available resources. Each nominee is asked to describe their learning community and the nominee’s portfolio is now to focus on the teacher’s impact on student learning.

“The basic process remains the same, but our steering committee decided to reduce some the requirements and combine some portfolio sections, all with the goal of making it clearer to the nominees and the selection committee how to create and evaluate a portfolio,” said Lucie Eusey, coordinator of the program.

Typically, teachers are nominated by their district, although self-nominations are accepted. The nominees then go through a process of submitting a profile, a professional portfolio, and reference letters. All nomination submissions are electronic; more information about the process is available at www.emporia.edu/teach/master.

In the past, Eusey said, teachers had a lot of leeway in how they chose to describe their teaching philosophy, professional practice, and involvement in their communities. Now each portfolio section has specific prompts focusing their responses on the impact their philosophy and practice has on student learning.

Nominations will be accepted through 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. The 2018 class of Kansas Master Teachers will be announced on Feb. 27, 2018. The honored teachers will visit Emporia State University on April 4, 2018 to tour campus, meet with students, and then will be recognized at the annual Kansas Master Teacher banquet and award ceremony. The selected teachers will receive a $1,000 stipend from Bank of America to use for professional learning.

Emporia State established the Kansas Master Teacher awards in 1954. The awards are presented annually to teachers who have served the profession long and well and who also typify the outstanding qualities of earnest and conscientious teachers.

Since 1980, Bank of America has pledged more than $100,000 to permanently endow the Kansas Master Teacher awards. In 1984, the Black family of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, established an endowed chair for Kansas Master Teachers. The fund provides a stipend to bring two Master Teachers to Emporia State for part of a semester. During this time, the teachers present to classes of education students.

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