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1994 Award Winners

1994 Kansas Master Teachers

* Special Award, ** Black Endowed Chair Recipient

Garold R. Billionis, USD 234 Fort Scott

Anne Nettleton, USD 305 Salina

Diane Prell, USD 260 Derby

Myron E. Schwinn, USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden

Kathryn E. Taylor, USD 253 Emporia

Connie J. Viebrock, USD 233 Olathe

Norma B. West, USD 417 Morris County


1994 KMT Program (pdf)

This program contains the names of the Master Teacher Nominees for the year listed here.

Biographies below were included in the program for the year listed here and were current as of that time.

Garold R. Billionis

USD 234 Fort Scott

Asking "what's best for the kids?" is his trademark.

That unconditional commitment to do what is best for his students has made Gary Billionis, boys physical education instructor at Fort Scott Middle School, a Master Teacher.

A native of Pittsburg, Billionis knows that asking that question without looking for answers is of little value. His openness to new ideas has led him in unusual directions, including the establishment of a nationally recognized after-school activities program and the National Middle School Activities Association, which boasts members in all 50 states and seven foreign countries.

The success of the program has put Billionis in high demand as a speaker and consultant in school districts looking to develop similar intramural
programs. It also has thrust Billionis into the national limelight as Director of Program Development for the National Middle School Activities Association and chair of the National Intramural Sports Council.

Billionis' best teaching is done by example both in and out of the classroom -- as a community leader, parent, administrator, and teacher.

In addition to his school responsibilities, he volunteers for community activities such as Good Ol' Days, Homes for the Holidays, the Tourist Information Center, Adopt a Highway, and community recycling efforts. Billionis has received the 1991 Outstanding Service Award from the National Intramural Sports Council, the Kansa$ Association of Middle Level Education Oasis Award, and the Dale E. Hammons Outstanding Teacher Award. He also served as president of the Fort Scott K-NEA.

Billionis received an associate of arts degree from Labette County Community College, and bachelor of science in education and master of science degrees from Pittsburg State University. Before joining Fort Scott Middle School in 1982, he taught in schools in Parsons, Altamont, and Coffeyville.

Anne Nettleton

USD 305 Salina

"Although I've taught art at all levels, I choose elementary-aged children for the sake of wonder and for the ' hugs.' Elementary children are open, honest, and willing learners. They continually delight me with their exuberance. They love making and doing, and they teach me as often as I instruct them," said Anne Nettleton, who, for the last 21 years, has learned from and instructed elementary art students in Salina.

"Miss N," as she is known to hundreds of Salina school children and parents, attributes her willingness to attempt difficult tasks, her determination to succeed, and her positive attitude toward life and learning to relationships with three key people: her mother, Katherine Anne Nettleton, who gave her a love of life; her first art teacher, Sister Gabriel Mary Hoare, who told her she could paint; and Dr. Audry Oaks, who prepared her and others like an "art army" whose mission was to save the world through art education.

"The person that I am today, my development as an artist, and my career in teaching proceeds from these women who inspired me by their
dreams, guided me by their example and validated me by their approval. Each day I strive to empower others in the same ways that they have influenced me. I truly believe in the power of one to change a life," she said.

Nettleton attended Webster College and received bachelor of arts in education and master of arts in education degrees from Oklahoma State University.

Nettleton carries her commitment to art-and education beyond the classroom boundaries. Within USD 305, she has served as elementary art department chair, and has been a member of the Artist in Education and Art Curriculum Guide committees and the School Improvement Team. Currently, she is a member of the district's Arts Infusion into Social Studies Committee and the Professional Development Council.

In the community, Nettleton has been an avid and enthusiastic supporter of the Salina Arts Center.

Diane Prell

USD 260 Derby

Diane Prell's teaching experience began in the two-room country school she attended near Bremen, Kansas when she was asked to listen to the primary students read and help them with their math. Later, as a senior in high school, she was asked to substitute in the grade school when a teacher left for a meeting or conference. Both experiences helped wet her appetite for a teaching career that has spanned 22 years.

Today, as fourth-grade teacher at Tanglewood Elementary School in Derby, Prell combines real-life experiences with the traditional elementary math  lesson and brings a "discipline of love" to each student. Along with division and fractions, Prell teaches belief in self and common courtesy.

Young students anticipate and former students reminisce about the real-life learning experiences Prell produces, like her discipline system based on check writing.

Her dedication to students is best illustrated by the vigil she stood over one student paralyzed by a debilitating car accident.

"While the social workers were busy making arrangements to transfer Ryan to a nursing home, she, in turn, started making plans how to bring him back to school," said a letter from the boy's parents.

Another student said she learned to believe in herself and how to be a friend while learning multiplication tables. "It was her extra effort to make me a better person that has stayed with me since I moved on from her class," said former student Kelly Syring Goss.

Prell received a bachelor of science degree from ESU and a master's degree in educational administration from Wichita State University.

She has received the South Central Uniserv Outstanding Teacher Award, the Derby Master Teacher Award in 1987 and 1994, the I Make a Difference Award, and the BEST /Golden Apple Award.

Myron E. Schwinn

USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden

"I believe a teacher is a role model, parent, counselor, disciplinarian, and friend. We must maintain positive attitudes through difficult situations and negative aspects of our society," said Myron E. Schwinn, science department chair at Manhattan High School. " ... I believe it is true that to touch the mind, we must first touch the heart."

Schwinn has touched the hearts of many during his 33 years as a science teacher. He began his teaching career in 1961 at Everest Rural High School. In 1964, he moved to Manhattan Junior High School, where he taught ninth-grade biology until 1980, when he began teaching seventh-grade life science. Since 1982, Schwinn has taught botany and zoology at Manhattan High School. In 1983, Schwinn became coordinator of MHS Wide Horizons Nature Program, a project in which MHS students select and research science topics, then develop 20-30 minute presentations to share with elementary school students. He has served as science department chair since 1987 and as the Manhattan district's hazardous materials technician since 1990.

Schwinn was named to Who's Who Among America's Teachers in 1990. He was named the National Association of Biology Teachers Outstanding Biology Teacher for Kansas in 1987, and received the National Science Foundation Outstanding Science Teacher Award, KSU chapter of Sigma Xi, in 1980. Schwinn also received the Kansas Wildlife Federation President's Award for Outstanding Service in 1972 and 1982, and the organization's Conservation Educator of the Year Award in 1969.

Schwinn received an associate of arts degree from Highland Community College and bachelor of science and master of science degrees from ESU. He has completed postgraduate work at Kansas State University.

Kathryn E. Taylor

USD 253 Emporia

Kathy Taylor is an advocate for education. Serving the Emporia school district and Emporia Middle School for the past 17 years, she has been equally comfortable educating teachers, helping the public understand educational issues, negotiating teacher contracts, and hugging "Special Olympians."

As coordinator of integrated learning systems for Emporia Middle School, Taylor established an integrated computer lab which has become a model for the state of Kansas. Taylor authored a Federal grant that generated more than $60,000 toward establishment of the lab. The lab's success encouraged Taylor to create another new class -- CONNECT, which involves coordinating the use of the integrated learning system for 400 students and 15 instructors. She now works with any teacher who wishes to use technology in their classrooms by selecting software and planning lessons. School districts from across the Midwest have visited the lab or invited Taylor to their schools to share her innovative program.

Taylor is articulate, yet forceful in promoting the causes of the profession. Her role as chief negotiator for the district has brought her a great deal of respect as well as a reputation as a tough, but fair professional.

"As a master negotiator, she has no peer," said Emporia school board member Paul McNab.

Lorie Rogan, former president of the Emporia Educational Support Personnel, said Taylor's total commitment to education includes not only her students and fellow teachers, but also a segment of educational employees often overlooked -- the support staff.

As a board member for K-NEA, Taylor ardently supported the inclusion of non-certified employees as valuable members of the public education structure.

She received bachelor of science in education and master of science degrees from ESU. She was a member of the Uniserve Coordinating Council for several years and was an alternate for the 1991 Christa McAuliffe Fellowship Award.

Connie J. Viebrock

USD 233 Olathe

Connie Viebrock's educational philosophy is a blend of three ingredients: a thirst for knowledge combined with an energy level that won't quit; learning to care for and share with others; and analysis of motivations.

"This recipe, my philosophy, is continually being revised by the educational cook trying to become the master chef. As with any good recipe there are allowances for individual taste -- some prefer more of one ingredient over another. There is a hunger deep within each student. It is up to each educational chef to develop the recipe that will satisfy each," Viebrock said.

Viebrock, a business instructor at Olathe East High School since 1992, began her teaching career in 1976 as a business instructor and sponsor of the
cheerleading squad, student newspaper, and yearbook, and junior class at Reading High School. From 1978-87, she served as business instructor and Olathe cheerleader sponsor first at West Junior High School (USD 497), then Indian Trail Junior High School (USD 233). In the 1987-88 school year, Viebrock taught at both Indian Trail and Olathe South High School. From 1988 to 1991, she taught business at Olathe South.

In 1982, Viebrock sold a computer game, "Pete's Pizzeria," to the National Joint Council of Economic Education in 1982. She won third place in Region I of the Kansas Economic Education Curriculum Contest in 1981. She also was a Leadership Olathe graduate in 1991. She received Teacher Spark Plug Awards in 1986, 1987, and 1988 while at Indian Trail, and in 1988, 1990, and 1991 while at Olathe South.

Viebrock received bachelor of science in business education and master of business education degrees from ESU.

Norma B. West

USD 417 Morris County

"I have found teaching, especially special education teaching, is something that gets into your blood and you never want to stop, for when teachers and students work together, we learn that being different isn't something bad or mysterious, it is just the way we are," said Norma West, a learning resources teacher at Dwight and Alta Vista elementary schools.

West began her education career in 1956 as a first-grade teacher in Topeka. She was an elementary teacher at schools in Wichita, Mulvane, Norwich, Fort Riley, and Junction City before being hired in 1975 by the Flint Hills Special Education Cooperative in Emporia as a special education teacher. At the time, she was taking her learning disabilities practicum at ESU. Since that time, and in addition to her duties at Dwight and Alta Vista, West also has taught special education classes in Wilsey and Council Grove.

"Norma is more than a ' passer-on' of information, more than a subject matter dispenser, or a mother figure to students; she truly touches their lives. She helps them know themselves, to understand themselves, and to reach out and grasp their potentials," said Eldon E. Moore, Dwight Elementary School principal.

West has received the KU Award for 25 years of teaching and the USD 253 award for 15 years of service. She is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. She will present a program on inclusion in small rural schools at the National CEC conference in Denver. West is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary society for teachers, and the Dwight Research Club, a Federated Club that provides scholarships and financial support for high school artists and musicians throughout the state.

West received bachelor of science in education and master of science in learning disabilities degrees from ESU.