1999 Award Winners
1999 Kansas Master Teachers
* Special Award, ** Black Endowed Chair Recipient
**Michelle DiLisio, USD 413 Chanute
Mary Hemphill, USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden
**Judy Humburg, USD 385 Andover
Mary Porterfield, USD 352 Goodland
Linda Stelzer, USD 382 Pratt
Phillip Theis, Butler County Community College
Andy Tompkins, Commissioner, Kansas Department of Education
Curt Vajnar, USD 489 Hays
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.
USD 413 Chanute
According to Dilisio, a physical education teacher at Chanute High School, fitness should not end at the conclusion of a semester or with the receipt of a diploma.
"I believe physical education should be enjoyable and should provide learning experiences about personal health techniques which can be carried into adult life," said Dilisio, who also coaches tennis and track. "I strive to provide a comprehensive educational and assessment program designed to improve the physical fitness and health of students now and for life.''
Dilisio has scheduled "fitness days" twice a week, and with her urging, Chanute High purchased stationary bicycles and heart monitors for students. She has organized faculty/ staff fun nights for the district and corporate olympics events to involve the community.
Named 1995 Kansas Secondary Physical Educator of the Year, Delisio also was 1990 Kansas Class 4A State girls tennis coach of the year. She was one of 12 physical education teachers selected to write KAHPERD's New Day, New Way activities book and a contributing author to NASPE's new book, Ideas III. Dilisio also created an innovative adaptive program to help special education students participate in physical education classes.
A native of Iola, Kan., Dilisio earned an Associate of Arts degree from Allen County Community College and a bachelor of science in education from Emporia State University. She has completed postgraduate work at Kansas State University, Pittsburg State University, and Emporia State.
USD 383 Manhattan-Ogden
As an art teacher at Northview and Eugene Field elementary schools, Hemphill teaches students how to design quality lives as well as art.
She believes education should prepare students to be responsible citizens. That preparation includes learning the ability to communicate, to understand and accept diversity, and to develop problem-solving skills. Hemphill wants her students to have a life-long desire to continue improving themselves and their quality of life.
Former student Harrison Rivers said, "At its most basic level, isn't that what teaching is all about - setting a good example for the students, giving them lessons on how to work with others, and how to persevere, carrying on a project to its completion? Today, I have a strong appreciation for the arts and for artists themselves, and I attribute much of that love to Mrs. Hemphill. I may not be an artist myself, but I am certainly a better person because of her art class."
Hemphill has modeled positive characteristics for her students with her Sunday School and Vacation Bible School involvement. She volunteers as a docent for the Beach Museum of Art and coordinates student art displays and judges student art contests in the Manhattan Ogden District. Hemphill also helped develop the K-12 Art Curriculum Guide for the Manhattan-Ogden District.
A native of Wamego, Kan., Hemphill earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Kansas State University. She has done post-graduate work at Wichita State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
USD 385 Andover
Humburg continues to plant good seeds and harvest a bumper crop of fifth-graders.
"l truly believe you reap what you sow," said Humburg. "Every teacher plants good seeds that, if watered, over time will come to harvest ... I want every child leaving my classroom in May to be full of the seeds I've planted from my heart that will someday be great memories."
One student who benefitted from Humburg's philosophy is recording artist Brooke Ramel. A transfer from Minnesota, Ramel had covered some of the material Humburg's class was studying, so she was allowed to go to the library and read or listen to music. As Ramel recalled, "I would sit with headphones and lose myself in the 'Carpenter's Greatest Hits,' an album that inspired my artistic dreams."
Humburg also helped inspire those dreams when she picked RamE'l to play the lead in "Alice in Wonderland" that year and asked her to write a theme song for the show.
Described as an "idea and action" person by a colleague, Humburg created "The Peanut Butter Solution," an economics project in which groups of students became companies and marketed products created with peanut butter. As a sponsor of the Math Team from 1996-98, Humburg's team was the Kansas Association of Teachers of Mathematics state winner in 1997.
A graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School, Humburg earned a bachelor's degree from Pittsburg State University and a master's degree from the University of Kansas. She has done post-graduate work at Wichita State University, Friends University, and Baker University.
USD 352 Goodland
Porterfield's Spanish classes bridge the gap between Kansas and Latin America to prove that it is a small world after all.
Working with the Kansas Partners for Paraguay program, Porterfield's high school students have yearly contact with students in Paraguay, and elementary students have helped prepare bi-lingual books for children in Paraguay. Students donate books for the projects, then translate the stories into Spanish and print the translations on the computer.
In 1994, Porterfield helped arrange for two adults and 10 high school students from Paraguay to spend a month at Goodland High. In 1998, she was involved in the first international video conference in Goodland. The conference, sponsored by World Bank, connected people from several Latin American countries with students in Goodland.
Her efforts to bring Spanish culture to her students have included field trips to the Cinco De Mayo celebration in Denver, Colo., and the Ballet Folklorico performance in Oberlin, Kan.
Said two former students, Diane Walters and Jennifer DeMauer, after a trip to Mexico, "We went to Mexico not expecting to be able to talk very easily with the people, but because you were such a good teacher to us, we did much better than we thought."
Porterfield was one of the first in Kansas to establish a foreign language program for the lower grades. Among her honors, she was named 1987 Kansas Foreign Language Teacher of the Year and received the 1990 Kansas National Education Association Human and Civil Rights Award.
A graduate of Ransom (Kan.) High School, Porterfield earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Fort Hays State University.
Sixth Grade Reading
USD 382 Pratt
Students in Stelzer's sixth-grade classroom might be found reading in a swing, under a tree house or in a bathtub filled with pillows. It's all part of the reading teacher's idea of adding a special twist and opening doors to problem-solving and success in life.
"She was one of the best teachers I ever had," said Pratt County Attorney Thomas V. Black, "and she truly motivated me to do well in school and follow my dreams. Because of the acute interest in science and analytical thinking which Mrs. Seltzer helped foster within me, I went on to study engineering and business in college and later became a lawyer."
"It is my wish for my child some day to have a teacher just like her," said former student Heather Jones. " ... I could not recommend her more highly."
Stelzer and another teacher started the Liberty Science Club with a grant for Extended Science Projects (ESP). The club has been so successful that an exploratory ESP class has been developed in response to student interest. She was one of several teachers who worked during the summer to revise the reading curriculum guidelines for sixth-grade students at Liberty Middle School in Pratt.
A native of Pratt, Kan., Stelzer earned an Associate of Arts degree from Pratt Community College, a bachelor's degree from Central State University, Edmond, Okla., and a master's degree from Northwestern State University, Alva, Ok.la. She has done post-graduate work at Emporia State University and Kansas State University.
Butler County Community College
The importance of time has been the catalyst that has driven Theis to become the quality educator he is today.
"Not only is the proper use of (time) critical to good presentation of material," said Theis, the lead instructor in microbiology at Butler County Community College, "but it also demonstrates respect of the student's time as well."
With that in mind, Theis developed laboratory teaching tapes that are used by microbiology instructors at Butler County Community College and developed methods for use of new television-microscope transmission in laboratory class settings.
"Working for Mr. Theis during my studies at Butler County Community College allowed me to see how interested he is in his students," said Greg Waldorf, O.D., Family Eyecare Associates, Olympia Fields and Blue Island, Ill. "Mr. Theis is very sensitive to the students' needs, and he works very hard to make sure everyone understands his lecture material. He teaches with a wit and sense of humor which makes his lectures fun and interesting. I know Mr. Theis has had a positive impact on my life as well as thousands of other students he has taught ."
Among his honors, Theis has won the Outstanding Faculty Award at Butler County and earned the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Black Student Union.
A native of Hutchinson, Kan., Theis earned an Associate of Arts degree from Hutchinson Community College. He then earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Emporia State University.
Kansas Department of Education
Agricultural Science/Driver's Education
USD 489 Hays
Vajnar has built the vocational program at Hays High School into what has been cited as one of the best in the state and one of the most modern and best equipped agricultural science labs in this part of the United States. The growth of the program prompted increased resources which provided a $300,000, cutting-edge, technically advanced facility which includes classroom space, laboratory facilities, individual and small group research areas, environmental chambers, and a greenhouse.
He has coached 27 top 10 state judging teams, five of which went on to be national judging teams. Twelve of his students have obtained State FFA degrees and last year's FFA Degree winner was named Kansas Agriculture Science Student of the Year.
"I will never forget his lessons in the classroom where he has shared life experiences to help us understand how what he is teaching us can be put into future use," said Lance Zimmerman, a former student and president of Kansas Northwest District FFA. "He has the gift to tie everyday life into agriculture lessons that a student can translate and understand easier than a standard textbook lesson."
Among Vajnar's honors are the 1998 Local Program of Success for Agriculture Education Award from the U.S. Department of Education and the 1997 Kansas Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association Outstanding Agriculture Program.
A graduate of Hillsboro (Kan.) High School, Vajnar earned an Associate of Arts degree from Butler County Community College and a bachelor's degree from Kansas State University. He also earned a master's degree from Kansas State and a driver's education certificate from Emporia State University.