2004 Kansas
Master Teachers

Mary Elizabeth Baker

K-5 Reading Specialist
USD 385 Andover

Luana "Lu" Bitter

Physical Education, Health, Anatomy & Physiology
USD 382 Pratt

Patricia Grzenda

Adaptive Physical Education
USD 497 Lawrence

Nicki Hancock

Grade 12 English
USD 233 Olathe

Greg Mittman**

Eighth Grade Social Studies
USD 262 Valley Center

Devra Parker**

English III, College English and Creative Writing
USD 254 Barber County

Patricia "Trish" Weidert

First Grade
USD 253 Emporia



William Samuelson*

Emporia State University

Kansas Master Teacher Award

Nicki Hancock

Nicki Hancock

2004 Kansas Master Teacher

Grade 12 English
Olathe East High School
USD 233 Olathe

visit all 2004 winners


Teaching Philosophy

"My philosophy of teaching is conservative.  The basic skills haven't changed.  Students still need to be able to read comprehensively, to write effectively, and to think deeply.  But over the past six or seven years I have fundamentally changed the strategies I use; now I emphasize teaching reading skills along with the literature.

Teaching Advanced Placement classes had demonstrated to me that students need focus on reading strategies and critical thinking.  Because so much college-level reading relies on understanding implied meaning, I help them develop inference skills.  Since hearing Spencer Kagan, I've added cooperative-learning groups and Socratic seminars to my lesson plans.  To scaffold a process from cooperative learning to individual analysis and writing, my AP classes work in groups to find literary devices and themes; then they find the devices on their own and share in pairs; finally they write essays without the help from others.  With their success comes confidence in their skills."

Mrs. Nicki Hancock draws her bountiful energy form her students achievements.  "Their success thrills them, and I am delighted when a student learns to use an apostrophe correctly or shows me a new aspect of Macbeth or revises a college application essay.  Those moments are the true reward for teaching."

Honors and Awards

Olathe building and district presentations on 6-trait writing, technology, reading strategies, and school
improvement (North Central Association), 1989-2003
8 College Now grants, 1996-2002
Writing Center Coordinator, 1989-present
Development and revision committee for the Olathe East Style Guide
Olathe East Blue Ribbon Schools committee, 1997-1998
North Central Accreditation/Building Level Team Co-chair, 1997-2002
Olathe Language Arts Curriculum Revision Committee, 1998-1999, 2003
University of Kansas Teacher Recognition Award, 1989
Outstanding Yearbook in Region, 1977

What People Say

Thomas J. Kearney, Department Chairman writes, "Take a look in her classroom and see how she makes William Shakespeare live again in her students.  Analyzing and interpreting--these are the hallmarks of the great teacher and they reside within her instruction.  To her, "commitment to excellence" is not a catch-phrase; it is a living truth.  She will get her students to work harder to "get inside" the message--and is genuinely delighted when they achieve."

Former student Patrick Rinearson writes, "There are so many things I gained from Ms. Hancock's class.  She helped my critical reading ability to come to fruition and through her high standards for her students' writing, helped me to become more critical of my own.  Moreover, I used to loath English classes, reading recreationally just wasn't something I enjoyed.  Because of Ms. Hancock's sheer knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject and her students she has imparted in me a genuine love for writing and literature.  Here I am two years later correction my brother's Shakespeare at the dinner table . . . .

Tu Quach, a former student who works in sales for Honeywell Aerospace International, Inc., a highly regarded Fortune 500 company writes, "Nicki Hancock is the 'one of a kind' teacher.  She works closely with her students, mentoring them to ensure their success.  She is an extremely dedicated individual, always putting student needs above her own.  Her class not only allowed me to enhance my intellectual well being, but helped me grow as an individual, too."