2020 Kansas Master Teacher Kathy Wagoner
Kathy Wagoner, NBCT
Grades 10-12 Secondary English/Language Arts Teacher
Hays High School
USD 489 Hays
Kathy Wagoner’s goal for her students means encouraging them to be life-long learners, to communicate effectively with others—in the written, verbal and non-verbal ways, to read and write more than through text messages with friends, and to critically think about issues.
Wagoner demonstrates herself as a life-long learner, studying for two degrees, earning National Board Certification three times, serving in multiple leadership roles, and serving students in her classroom for 29 years.
Earning her bachelor’s degree in secondary education - English from the University of Kansas in 1990, Wagoner has been at Hays High School since 1991. She completed her master’s degree in English from Fort Hays State University in 1999.
Her skill is recognized through multiple honors and awards, and statements from colleagues testify to her abilities to have vision, adapt, and challenge. Wagoner focuses her interests in the people she mentors in the classroom. She is not her students’ superior or boss, but a mentor, or, as she states it, a “facilitator to their learning.”
Her career began at a time when textbooks complemented the assigned literature, grades were computed on a calculator, and desks were lined up in rows like a factory assembly line. Contrasting then to now, her classroom has seating that changes as needed for different activities, and technology is used to define, translate, speak, and provide virtual reality, supplementing the curriculum.
“The most important factor in keeping students in school and learning centers around their feeling of belonging,” she states. This extends to their families by providing them with virtual reality headsets at a school open house to ease any school-based anxieties, and to their teachers by negotiating contracts so teachers “can put their focus on the students, not on just trying to make a living.”
Word choice matters, as a current student demonstrates in writing about Wagoner, “It’s not just how great a teacher she is that makes her worthy of this award; it’s how great of a person she is. Her passion and mindset is inspiring and unmatched. The way she teaches is unique and from her heart.”