2017 Kansas
Master Teachers

John Butcher

Art Teacher
USD 229 Blue Valley

Melinda Eitel

Kindergarten Teacher
USD 305 Salina

Joan Hayden

Physical Education Teacher
USD 475 Geary County

Jennifer Hendrix

Physics Teacher
USD 443 Dodge City

Kimberly Hett

5th Grade Teacher
USD 385 Andover

Brandy Lane

6th Grade Teacher
USD 437 Auburn Washburn

Laura Schwinn

A/V Communications Teacher
USD 253 Emporia

Kansas Master Teacher Award


photo of Laura Schwinn

Laura Schwinn

2017 Kansas Master Teacher

A/V Communications Teacher
Emporia High School
USD 253 Emporia


Is there any stronger endorsement of her success than two sisters requiring their younger sibling to take Schwinn’s classes? Admittedly, the student writes, “It has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my high school career.”

Laura Schwinn wants to connect with each individual student and equip them with skills they can use immediately in real world applications. The fact that students leave her classroom with a tangible product, such as a yearbook or a photography portfolio, helps them see the value of the content they are learning.

“I would walk into her classroom every day knowing three things would happen: I would learn something new, be appropriately challenged, and I’d have a ton of fun,” said a former student.

Schwinn earned a bachelor’s in education from Kansas State University in 2002 and an ESL endorsement from KSU in 2009. She began her career in 2002, teaching English/journalism at Marysville Jr/Sr High School. In 2003, she returned to her alma mater, Emporia High School, where currently she teaches A/V communications courses.

Schwinn has grown and evolved along with the digital media she guides students to explore. Stepping in to sponsor the yearbook and student newspaper, Schwinn shifted her teaching emphases from basic strategies and classroom management to enabling students to find real world connections to their work. She developed what was once a traditional print newspaper into a web-based platform involving photography and video production. The yearbook routinely wins awards, and while other schools have difficulty selling their yearbook, sales have increased under Schwinn’s guidance.

Outside of the classroom, Schwinn can be seen everywhere. “Her presence at all things school is standard practice, making students feel they are her top priority,” a colleague states. From her work as the assistant volleyball coach, to sponsoring student trips, to serving as the announcer at sporting events, as one student says, “She is always like the Energizer Bunny, always going. She is always going and it’s always for the good of somebody else.” Or, more succinctly, as a colleague states, “Laura Schwinn has a huge heart.”

“Life is all about connecting and communicating with each other, and I strive daily to help students accomplish this,” Schwinn states. “Each day, when I walk into my classroom, I am excited and ready for what the day will bring. Students find their passion and run with it, and I am proud to have a small part in that journey.”