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Hall of Fame Honors Teachers With Week of Activities

Exceptional educators will be honored this week as the National Teachers Hall of Fame inducts 10 new members. Two classes of five inductees each will be honored, the first in-person events after the COVID pandemic canceled the schedule in 2020.

In Emporia this week are the members of the Class of 2020:

  • Andrew Beiter, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Springville Middle School in Springville, New York
  • Dr. Melissa Collins, a second grade teacher at John P. Freeman Optional School in Memphis, Tennessee
  • Donna Gradel, a retired 10th- through 12th-grade Environmental Science teacher at Broken Arrow High School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. She is now dean of academics and innovation at Summit Christian Academy.
  • Thomas Knab, a K-4 visual arts teacher at Dodge Elementary School in East Amherst, New York
  • Jamil Siddiqui, a 9th- through 12th-grade mathematics teacher at East Bridgewater High in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts

and Class of 2022:

  • Sergio de Alba, a sixth-grade teacher at R.M. Miano Elementary School in Los Banos, California
  • Robert Fenster, a 10th- through 12th-grade social studies teacher at Hillsborough High in Hillsborough, New Jersey
  • Leila Kubesch, an 8th- through 12th-grade TESOL and Spanish teacher at Norwood High School in Norwood, Ohio
  • Kareem Neal, a 9th- through 12th-grade special education teacher at Maryvale High School in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Christopher Poulos, a 9th- through 12th-grade Spanish teacher at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut

Inductees have a full schedule through Friday night of events around Emporia. These are events open to the public:

Wednesday, June 15

  • Class of 2022 Round Table Webinar, livestreamed at, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
  • Trivia Challenge (inductees vs. Emporia teams), Lyon County History Center, 711 Commercial St., third floor, 8 p.m.

Thursday, June 16

  • Emporia Municipal Band Concert, Fremont Park, 7 to 9 p.m.
    • Inductees will participate in the children’s march and the Chicken Dance
    • National Teachers Hall of Fame hosts “The Haught and Cold Event” sponsored by Steve and Nina Haught of Emporia Orthodontics — Braum’s ice cream sandwiches and Hostess Twinkies to the first 200 people.

Friday, June 17

  • Rededication ceremonies for National Memorial to Fallen Educators, 18th Avenue + Merchant Street, 10 a.m.
  • Induction Ceremonies for Class of 2020 and Class of 2022, KSTC Ballroom in Memorial Union, 7:15 to 9:30 p.m.
    • Livestream available at