2013 Award Winners
2013 Kansas Master Teachers
* Special Award, ** Black Endowed Chair Recipient
Connecting with students key for 2013 Kansas Master Teachers
March 6, 2013
The seven educators in the 2013 class of Kansas Master Teachers share a common trait — connecting with individual students to ensure their success in the classroom and life.
The 2013 class of Kansas Master Teachers, announced today, are:
- Juliann Bliese, first-grade teacher at Ravenwood Elementary School in Olathe;
- Michelle Lynn Bogner, first-grade teacher at Northwest Elementary School in Dodge City;
- Kathleen Bowen, gifted education facilitator at Hillcrest and Sunset Hill elementary schools in Lawrence;
- Kacie Evans, English language arts teacher at Prairie Heights Middle School and technology coordinator for Prairie Heights Elementary and Middle schools in Alta Vista;
- Kelley Norman, math instructional coach at Chase and Robinson middle schools in Topeka;
- Michele Ann Palmgren, family and consumer sciences teacher at Salina South High School in Salina; and
- Tara Walrod, school counselor at Sunrise Point Elementary in Overland Park (Blue Valley school district).
They are the 60th class of Kansas Master Teachers and will be honored during another special anniversary — 2013 is the 150th anniversary of Emporia State University’s founding.
Emporia State University established the Kansas Master Teacher awards in 1954. The awards are presented annually to teachers who have served the profession long and well and who also typify the outstanding qualities of earnest and conscientious teachers.
Since 1980, Bank of America has pledged more than $100,000 to permanently endow the Kansas Master Teacher awards. In 1984, the Black family of Broken Bow, Okla., established an endowed chair for Kansas Master Teachers. The fund provides a stipend to bring two Master Teachers to ESU for part of a semester. During this time, the teachers present to classes of education students.
The 2013 class will be honored on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, at Emporia State University. The schedule of events for the day includes a look back at teaching styles of the past at the one-room schoolhouse at Emporia State and lunch with Dr. Michael D. Shonrock, Emporia State president.
The master teachers will present a seminar in Visser Hall 330 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. The evening begins at 5:15 p.m. with social time outside Webb Hall in ESU’s Memorial Union. The dinner and awards presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. in Webb Hall.
The 2013 Kansas Master Teachers were honored at a banquet in Emporia State University's Memorial Union. Tributes from colleagues, supervisors, former and current students were read before each of the 2013 Kansas Master Teacher addressed the audience, sharing anecdotes, philosophies, and their perspectives from serving in education.
Biographies below were included in the program for the year listed here and were current as of that time.
Ravenwood Elementary School
USD 233 Olathe
The laughter and excitement of first-grade students is as precious to Juliann Bliese today as it was 30 years ago when she began teaching.
“It is my job as a teacher to excite, encourage, guide, challenge, celebrate and question everything along with my students,” said Bliese. “My students continue to teach me what’s important.”
Bliese fills her classroom with activity and often asks herself if she were a child, would she want to be in this classroom.
“My personal teaching style incorporates movement, music, singing, chanting, drama, cooperative learning activities and exploration with lots of questions,” said Bliese. “Nature and the world around us is utilized to involve my students in inquiry.”
During Bliese’s career, her students’ projects have included creating butterfly gardens, planting a summer vegetable garden, using the Internet to talk with astronauts and collecting books for homeless children.
“Julie is one of those rare teachers all parents hope their children will be lucky enough to have at least once in their elementary career,” writes Karen Thompson, school counselor at Ravenwood Elementary.
Added Tanya Channell, a former principal, “She discovers the strengths in each child and works toward helping them learn through those individual strengths. … She helps the students gain pride in their own accomplishments, and they continue to develop more and more skills.”
One former student recalls how difficult it was to step into Bliese’s kindergarten classroom.
“Not only was I the quiet little girl who cried when my mother left me, but I was the girl whom Mrs. Bliese carefully coaxed to the reading mat with love and affection.”
Bliese earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a master’s degree in early childhood handicapped from Fort Hays State University, and is a National Board Certified Teacher working toward a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Baker University.
She has taught in schools in Council Bluff, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; and Hays, and Olathe, Kansas.
English Language Arts Teacher, Prairie Heights Middle School
Technology Coordinator, Prairie Heights Elementary and Middle Schools
USD 417 Morris County
"I believe that most teachers settle for mediocrity from their students, but a great teacher strives above and beyond by wanting and giving the best for their students. That is exactly what Mrs. Evans does,” wrote a former student of Kacie Evans.
That student is now in college and credits Evans with giving her confidence in herself and encouraging her to pursue goals outside her comfort zone.
For Evans, reaching and inspiring students is simple — “Education is about loving students,” she said. “If you love students, you will do what is right for them to give them the best education possible.”
In Evans’s classroom and school, that best education comes through hands-on lessons to show text structure in writing; organizing fine-arts field trips for the entire school to see stage productions, symphony concerts and art exhibits; sending eighth-graders to high school with a personalized tribute to them during graduation ceremonies; using technology to link the classroom with the outside world; and attending students’ extracurricular activities.
“There are those who have knowledge of subject matter, while others make a personal connection with students,” wrote Cynthia Schrader, principal of Prairie Heights Middle School. “What makes Kacie Evans such a strong educator is that she has both assets.”
One parent, whose daughter and son have both been in Evans’s classroom, appreciates how Evans gets to know each student.
“She truly wants each student to be successful in her classroom,” the parent wrote, “and she is one of those teachers who doesn’t use a cookie cutter style of teaching. She knows about each of her students and what it takes for them to learn; most of the kids don’t even realize that they are learning.”
Evans earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a middle level English endorsement from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in education with a library media specialist major from Fort Hays State University.
Gifted Education Facilitator
Hillcrest and Sunset Hill Elementary Schools
USD 497 Lawrence
Kathleen Bowen expects excellence from her students. To help them achieve it, she expects the same from herself.
“Excellence. Boldness. Dreams. Gifts I want to give my students,” said Bowen. “If I can inspire them to boldly follow their dreams, if I can impart to them the importance of excellence, if I can help them tap their potential and then give them wings to soar, I will have realized my own dream — to be an awesome teacher!”
Former students, parents and colleagues agree that Bowen has realized her dream.
Wrote one former student, now a college student at Princeton University, “By introducing academic opportunities to me, Ms. Bowen allowed me to explore and cultivate my potential.”
Bowen is known for getting to know her students individually, often attending their extracurricular activities, as parents of one of her students noted.
“Having come to know her over the years, it doesn’t surprise me to see her taking these extra efforts to understand her students’ whole lives and offer encouragement by just showing up with her gracious manner, beautiful smile, encouraging words and spark in her eye,” said these parents whose two daughters were taught by Bowen.
Bowen uses the “five C’s” in her work with students — curriculum, curiosity, creativity, competitions, and connections. Students’ innovative learning comes through online math programs to allow for individualized acceleration, reading biographies then dressing up as the person and presenting biopoems about them, creating board games to teach and learn about an historical event, traveling on weekends to a math competition and presenting research at a community Project Fair.
Bowen earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in reading, and special competency in gifted education from Eastern Montana College. After retiring from a teaching career in Montana and moving to Kansas, she earned gifted education certification from The University of Kansas and English as a Second Language certification from Kansas State University.
Math Instructional Coach
Chase and Robinson Middle Schools
USD 501 Topeka
After two years of teaching middle school math, Kelley Norman took on a new group of students as she now coaches and mentors classroom math teachers.
“Ms. Norman is a great instructional coach because she was a great teacher,” said Teresa L. Songs, principal of Chase Middle School in Topeka.
Throughout her career, which included teaching fourth grade at Williams Science and Fine Arts Elementary Magnet School in Topeka, Norman has created environments that encourage active learning.
“I believe that whoever is doing the most talking and doing is also doing the most learning,” Norman said. “In classrooms, the people engaging in the most ‘doingness’ should be students instead of teachers.”
Norman’s philosophy has made an impact on countless students.
“In Ms. Norman’s classroom there was always an element of competition,” wrote one student, now in high school and a leader in his class. “We played math games that went along with the lessons and the winners got prizes, which made all of us work hard to learn.”
Another student recalled all the extra time Norman was willing to spend to help students. “She took the time out of her day to help me succeed on the things I was struggling with when she could have been grading papers or inputting grades,” wrote the current high school junior.
Norman’s current work mentoring other teachers is paying off for the school district, according to Songs.
“As an Instructional Coach, Ms. Norman’s impact was directly seen,” wrote Songs. “She assisted beginning math teachers with in-the-moment coaching and modeling.… This exceptional mentoring along with the establishment of Tier II interventions were significant factors in Chase Middle School being one of the few schools to go off of the ‘On Improvement’ state status.”
Norman earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a bachelor of arts degree from Washburn University, and is pursuing a master’s degree in educational administration from Emporia State University.
Michele Ann Palmgren
Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher
Salina South High School
USD 305 Salina
Michele Ann Palmgren spent 15 years teaching chemistry at Salina South High School until her work with at-risk teens moved her to request a transfer to the Family and Consumer Science (FACS) program.
In 2004, Palmgren said, she began volunteering as a teacher of a women’s life skills class in Salina. Her students were dealing with abuse, drug addiction, divorce, court orders, and other issues.
“Over the nine-month classes, I would constantly hear the phrase, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me this sooner?’” she explained.
Eventually Palmgren asked herself why she couldn’t begin teaching similar classes to teens so they could learn life skills sooner. With that, the course “Teen Builders-Lifeskills” was born at Salina South, and Palmgren used seminar period to teach at-risk sophomores.
In five years, all but two of the approximately 65 students who enrolled graduated from high school.
“Out of all the things Ms. Palmgren has done for me, the most important thing I believe was to push me toward the life skills class,” wrote one former student who said he “was headed down a wrong path throughout my high school career,” which included juvenile detention incarcerations.
He now works for UPS, a job he says he earned with Palmgren’s mentoring through the application and interview process.
“It’s safe to say, without the little push of Ms. Palmgren over four years ago, I would never be where I am at today. I would have stayed on my path of crime and violence.”
Another student, who had Palmgren as a teacher of both chemistry and lifeskills, was in foster care during high school. “Ms. Palmgren has been the only person in the past five years who has been consistent in my life,” wrote the student who now attends college.
Palmgren earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and secondary education and a master’s degree in business administration from Kansas Wesleyan University and is pursuing a master’s of education degree from Baker University. She also has completed course work toward a doctoral degree in curriculum instruction at Kansas State University.
Michelle Lynn Bogner
Northwest Elementary School
USD 443 Dodge City
If it takes a village to raise children, Michelle Bogner believes it takes a team to educate them. That team includes teachers, parents, building staff, and the child’s community.
“The teacher does not stand alone,” said Bogner. “He or she is part of a team of people who are all working toward a common vision or goal for the students.”
“My child truly grew and blossomed both personally and academically while in Mrs. Bogner’s class,” wrote one parent who referred to Bogner as a “tremendous communicator.”
“She always made sure that my wife and I knew exactly what she was teaching in her class and how our daughter was performing,” he continued.
Throughout her career, Bogner has worked to create curriculum, strategies, and efficiencies for not only her own classroom but to benefit the entire school. These include creating a pacing guide for the phonics program used in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms, and creating and maintaining a Facebook page to share information with students’ families and the community.
“Michelle fits the description of the Energizer Bunny — she continues endlessly,” wrote Judy Beedles Miller, Dodge City assistant superintendent for elementary education. “Whether she is at school or in the community, she is dedicated and totally involved in the situation. … She listens, observes, reflects, plans, presents, and re-evaluates to determine the best strategies to use in various situations.
“She is a role model for other educators to observe.”
Bogner earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fort Hays State University, a reading specialist master teacher degree from Emporia State University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Kansas State University.
Sunrise Point Elementary
USD 229 Blue Valley
Building rapport with students is key to Tara Walrod’s success as a school counselor.
“In order to create a rapport with children, I must look at students as individuals, have all students actively participating and encourage students to be problem solvers, facilitate learning through real-world connections, and empower students to become self-learners,” Walrod explained.
According to parents, students, and colleagues, Walrod is able to reach the nearly 500 students in her school.
One parent tells of a disastrous kindergarten year for her daughter at a private school. She and her husband looked at their neighborhood school for their daughter’s first-grade year and met with Walrod.
“Before the school year even started,” she wrote, “Tara had our daughter come to the school and play games with her, tour the school, get comfortable, etc., so that when the first day came, she would feel totally at ease and ‘safe.’”
Walrod’s kindness comes naturally, but she also works to teach that character trait to students. Sunrise Point Elementary opened in 2006, and each year Walrod has featured a kindness theme for the school. She also works with fifth-grade students, the oldest age in the school, to become leaders and role models for the younger students. Other projects include setting up small groups that include friendship development, girls’ relational aggression, grief and loss, food allergy, and changing families.
“Every school has the ‘glue’ that connects all the staff and community together,” wrote a teacher at Sunrise Point Elementary School. “Unfortunately our school has had to cope with the loss of the life of a student and several students have lost a parent. Through these most difficult times, she provided us all with her compassion and expertise to help not only our students and staff, but our entire school community.”
Walrod earned bachelor’s degrees in education and mathematics and a master’s degree in school guidance and counseling from Kansas State University.