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COVID Pandemic Cancels 2021 Kansas Master Teacher Awards

The Kansas Master Teacher program at Emporia State University is another temporary casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic after the award committee decided to suspend the awards for the 2020-21 academic year.

Although the awards celebration would not take place until April 2021, the nomination process already has started. Dr. Joan Brewer, dean of The Teachers College at Emporia State, said the decision needed to be made now.

“We normally bring hundreds of people to campus for the awards banquet in April, and our Kansas Master Teachers spend time with our education majors in the classroom during the celebration,” Brewer explained. “We knew we would not be able to honor these esteemed educators as we normally do and chose stop the 2020-21 awards process.”

The Kansas Master Teacher program has been recognizing outstanding educators in the state since 1954. The awards are presented to selected teachers who demonstrate the attributes of exemplary professional educators.

Nominations may come from a variety of sources, and many Kansas schools and districts have a process in place for their own nominations, which are then forwarded for state competition. Traditionally the selected Kansas Master Teachers are announced each year in February with Kansas Master Teacher Day falling on the first Wednesday of April.

“We encourage everyone working on nominations now to keep them until the 2021-22 nomination cycle,” Brewer said.

The teachers in the most recent class of Kansas Master Teachers, selected for 2019-20, are:

  • Hillary Barscewski, First-Grade Teacher at Cottonwood Elementary School in USD 385 Andover;
  • Holly Bright, Kindergarten Teacher at Grandview Elementary School in USD 490 El Dorado;
  • Justin Heeke, Seventh-Grade Physical Education Teacher at Comanche Middle School in USD 443 Dodge City;
  • Erica Huggard, Biology/Health Science Teacher at Emporia High School in USD 253 Emporia;
  • Eunice Izazaga, Second-Grade Teacher at Pleasant Valley Elementary School in USD 259 Wichita;
  • Vickie Marcozzi, Art/Enrichment Reading and Writing Grades 2-5 Teacher at Oakdale Elementary School in USD 305 Salina; and
  • Kathy Wagoner, English Teacher at Hays High School in USD 489 Hays.

More information about the program is available online: