Teachers of the Month

Teachers of the Month

 

March 2020

Ernest Ballenger





 

South High School’s Teacher of the Month is Ernest Ballenger. He has been teaching a total of 11 years with all of those at South High where he teaches math. Ernest says he chose teaching as his profession because he was always a big fan of math. He says his greatest inspiration was his high school English teacher and basketball coach. Ernest says he has enjoyed being able to teach all levels of math and having the opportunity to coach sports while at  South High. The part of teaching he enjoys the most is helping the students realize they can be good at math and being a mentor to students. Ernest says he would like to thank the parents and the community for the opportunity to work with their children. 

 
 Jill Graff  

South Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Jill Graff. She has been teaching for 21 years and has been at South Middle for 6 years where she teaches 6th grade math and reading. Jill says she chose teaching as her profession because she loves watching children learn things and her inspiration was Mrs. Lake, her 3rd grade teacher. Jill says she has always liked math class the best because it is very black and white - no gray areas. Jill says she loves interacting with the students and truly loves when she sees a big grin come over their face because they figured out the problem. Jill's message is to be willing to fail, and if you fail - fail forward ... struggle is a prerequisite to greatness.

 Jesse Smith  

Lakewood Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Jesse Smith. He has been teaching a total of 11 years and this has been his first year at Lakewood. Jesse says he chose teaching as his profession because he had some amazing teachers over the years. He says learning something from a person who is passionate about a subject is very inspiring. Jesse says he enjoys seeing the students make positive connections with their classmates and school staff. The part of teaching he enjoys the most is seeing students learn and grow both in class and as people. Jesse would like to thank the community for having so many great opportunities for students and family to take advantage of. 

 Mark Sandbo

Central High School's Teacher of the Month is Mark Sandbo. He has been teaching a total of 12 years with all of those at Central High where he teaches strength and conditioning. Mark says he chose teaching as his profession because he grew up around the profession and a lot of the most impactful people in his life were educators. Mark says his parents were and still are his biggest inspiration when it comes to teaching and parenting. Marks says he enjoys the relationships between the students and peers at Central High and he enjoys seeing the commitment and excitement the students have for gains they make in the classroom. He feels that it is extremely positive to those students who carry that success elsewhere in school and life. His message to parents is to trust the process.

 

February 2020

Amanda Tackett




 

South High School’s Teacher of the Month is Amanda Tackett. She has been teaching 12 years and this is her first year at Salina South where she teaches English. Amanda says she chose teaching as her profession because being in education is what she always wanted to do. Her inspirations were her dance instructors and her high school English teacher, Keith Miller. Amanda says her favorite part of teaching is being involved with the newspaper, yearbook, debate/forensics and band. She says her favorite part of teaching is building quality relationships with her students. Amanda says even though she is new to the Salina area, she is excited to get involved not only in the school but the community as well. 

 
 Brea Campbell  

South Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Brea Campbell. She has been teaching for 5 years and has been at South Middle for 2 years where she teaches 8th grade science. Brea says she chose teaching as her profession because she had amazing teachers growing up and great classroom experiences in school (South Middle and South High). The part of teaching she enjoys the most is watching how much the students change as the year goes on.  Every student has abilities and interests and it is great to be able to learn about them and build that relationship. She enjoys challenging students to be the best versions of themselves. Brea would like to tell parents to be involved with your school and activities your child is a part of. Being there for them matters more than anything to them.

 Eryn Koons  

Lakewood Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Eryn Koons. She has been teaching a total of 10 years with all of those at Lakewood where she teaches 6th grade Earth and Space Science. Eryn chose teaching as her profession because she has always enjoyed working with youth. She says she had many wonderful and supportive teachers as her inspiration. Eryn says she enjoys getting to know the students, building relationships and seeing their creativity and personality. The part of teaching she enjoys the most is seeing students grow in confidence, not only academically but personally as well. Eryn's message to parents is ask your students what they are working on or learning at school. Many need opportunities to share about their successes, whether they be big or small. 

 Mike Kilgore

Central High School's Teacher of the Month is Mike Kilgore. He has been teaching a total of 8 years with all of those at Central High where he teaches Cabinet Making I, II and III. Mike says he chose teaching as his profession because he wanted to inspire students. He says his inspiration was his high school shop teacher. Mike says he enjoys having opportunities at Central to become involved. The part of teaching Mike enjoys the most is when a student looks at his finished project and says that they built it with a smile.

 
 

January 2020

Amy Wagner



 

South High School’s Teacher of the Month is Amy Wagner. She has taught a total of 17 years at the elementary level and is starting her fifth year as a high school counselor. Amy says she chose teaching as her profession because she wanted to provide a safe and comfortable learning environment where her students could learn new skills and improve their confidence levels. Amy says she enjoyed teaching reading because it was in her comfort zone. She also taught 2nd and 3rd grade math toward the end of her teaching career. She says teaching math was out of her comfort zone but it was the most rewarding professionally. Amy says the best of part of teaching is challenging students academically. She would like to thank all the parents for trusting her with their children. 

 
 Lisa Parker  

South Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Lisa Parker. She has been teaching for 18 years and has been at South Middle for 15 years where she teaches 7th grade social studies. Lisa says she was the kid who truly loved school so it seemed like a good career choice to continue her days in a classroom. She says she was also fortunate to have many amazing teachers as role models. Lisa says middle school students are amazing to work with and there is never a dull moment and she is fortunate to work with outstanding teachers, administrators and support staff at South Middle. Lisa's message to parents is that technology is wonderful but take some time every day to put all devices and screens aside and really talk to your children  Ask them questions about their day, engage them in face to face conversation and show them that you value spending time with them. They are worth it.

 Chris Nay  

Lakewood Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Chris Nay. She has been teaching a total of 26 years and is in her 18th year at Lakewood where she teaches 8th grade English and Advanced English. Chris chose teaching as her profession because her mother-in-law was a teacher who always talked about how rewarding teaching was and she encouraged her to major in education. Chris says not only does she enjoy teaching reading and writing to middle school students she also enjoys the Lakewood staff as well. The camaraderie at the school is critical to be successful in the classroom. Chris says she really enjoys getting to know the students and enjoys having them come back to visit and tell her about their successes. Chris' message to parents is that communication between the teacher, student and parent is vital to a child's success. 

 Thomas DeWitt

Central High School's Teacher of the Month is Thomas DeWitt. He has been teaching a total of 5 years and this is his first year at Central High where he teaches science. Thomas chose teaching as his profession because of the great teachers who inspired him as he went through school Thomas says his favorite subject in school was history. Thomas also says the part of teaching he enjoys the most is watching the students grow as people.

 

December 2019

Melanie Hammond


 

South High School’s Teacher of the Month is Melanie Hammond. She has been teaching a total of 19 years with all of them being at South High where she teaches chemistry and physical science. Melanie says this is her second career and her first career was as an x-ray technician training students to become technicians. The joy that comes from showing someone something they didn't know and watching them master those skills made her realize that this was her true passion. As one of the Stuco sponsors, Melanie gets to be involved in a lot of community service projects and she appreciates how generous the students and faculty are when they are collecting items for community needs. Melanie says her favorite part of teaching is building relationships with her students. Her message to parents and the community is that teaching is not an easy job and teachers choose this path because they are passionate about what they do and they care about their students. 

 
 Lynn Harris  

South Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Lynn Harris. She has been teaching for 27 years and has been at South Middle for 15 years where she teaches 6th grade ELA/Reading. Lynn says she chose teaching as her profession because she needed to be able to support herself one day and teaching was something she wanted do do. She says it was just a natural field for her to choose. The part of teaching she enjoys the most is seeing the students realize their academic success such as the light bulb goes on. Lynn says parenting is a lifelong commitment. It is one of the most satisfying life experiences and it takes work because children thrive on love, consistency, boundaries, fairness and age appropriate expectations. She says everyone at South Middle values the family and parents of the students. They work to make middle school a positive experience for all.

 Carlene Jackson  

Lakewood Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Carlene Jackson. She has been teaching a total of 16 years and is in her second year at Lakewood where she is a special education co-teacher for math. Carlene says teaching is important because of its value to coming generations and that is why she chose it as her profession. Her inspiration for teaching are her students and their curiosity and creativity. Carlene says she loves her colleagues at Lakewood because they inspire her to do her best. The part of teaching she enjoys the most is creating lessons for all  learners. Carlene would like to thank parents and the community for their gracious and steadfast support. 

 Jessica Putman

Central High School's Teacher of the Month is Jessica Putman. She has been teaching a total of 9 years and this is her seventh year at Salina Central where she teaches health, P.E. and nutrition and wellness. Jessica chose teaching as her profession because she wanted to make an impact on young minds, like many of her teachers and coaches did for her at Central when she attended there. Jessica says she loves all three classes that she teaches and she learns something new everyday from her students. Jessica says she enjoys building relationships with students and watching them in all their successes: big or small. Her message is to always be willing to continue to learn. 

 
 

November 2019

Leah Dykas

 

South High School’s Teacher of the Month is Leah Dykas. She has been teaching a total of 8 years with all of them being at South High where she teaches social studies. Leah says she chose teaching after realizing that pharmacy wasn't her passion like she thought it was. Since she enjoys learning about the past, going to museums and telling people what she has learned, she realized she could make a career out of teaching others. Leah says she enjoys getting to know her students and helping them find what interests them. She also likes challenging herself to learn new information and enjoys her relationships with her co-workers. Leah would like to tell parents to be involved in anyway they can with their student because it means more than they know. 

 
 Michelle Cooper  

South Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Michelle Cooper. She has been teaching for 26 years and has been at South Middle for 16 years where she teaches 6th grade science and reading. Her first 10 years were teaching at Hageman Elementary. Michelle says teaching is the best job in the world. She says there is never a dull moment and no two days are alike. Michelle says she loves being surrounded by young people who have a sense of playfulness and possibility and who view the world in a positive way. The part of teaching she enjoys the most is having the ability and responsibility to provide guidance and mentorship for students who need it. A student's success in class leads to improved self-esteem which not only help in other classes but also outside the classroom.

 Sarah Byarlay  

Lakewood Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Sarah Byarlay. This is her first year teaching at Lakewood where she teaches 7th grade reading. Sarah says she has always wanted to be a teacher but didn't think it it would be possible when she joined the military. She says her family was her inspiration because they support everything she does. Sarah says the best part about teaching is listening to all of the different stories. Everyone has their own story and she loves to learn about them all. Sarah says reading is the key to bridging the gap between interests and academics. Sarah's message to parents is that everyone has a story. Don't let your child's go unheard. 

 Maggie Corcoran

Central High School's Teacher of the Month is Maggie Corcoran. She has been teaching a total of 9 years and this is her second year at Salina Central where she teaches English. Maggie chose teaching as her profession because she comes from a family of educators and they all loved their jobs. Maggie says she loves to teach 9th and 10th graders because they make her laugh on a daily basis. She would like to give a shout out to her 12th grade ELO-Corcoran's Crew. Maggie says she enjoys getting to be creative with her teaching and she is very impressed with the level of education she has seen in Salina and the community should be proud of what they have built. 

 
 

October 2019

Jamie Smith
 

South High School’s Teacher of the Month is Jamie Smith. She has been teaching for 5 years and this is her first year at South High where she teaches Spanish Level 1. Jamie says she chose teaching as her profession because she loves learning languages, helping people and making a positive impact on students. Jamie says she has formed many positive connections at  South High and the teachers are amazing. She also says having an open and supportive dialogue with administration and colleagues really makes working at South High a positive experience. Jamie's favorite part of teaching is building a rapport with the students because they help her to be a better teacher as well as keeping her days interesting. Jamie would like to thank parents and the community for all their help because without the support of them, teaching would not be the same. 

 
 Michael Rassette  

South Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Michael Rassette. He has been teaching for 17 years and has been at South Middle for 15 years where he teaches 8th grade history. Michael says he chose teaching as his profession because he learned the most from the teachers who showed passion for their job and had high respect for their students. The part of teaching he enjoys the most is the student interactions. He says every person has a voice and he wants to hear what his students have to say. Michael's message to parents is to get involved in their child's activities to build strong bonds of communication. Michael says he has met many great young men and women and he is totally okay with them leading our country someday.

 Forrest Jenkins  

Lakewood Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Forrest Jenkins. He has been teaching a total of 2 years with all of them being at Lakewood where he teaches pre-algebra. Forrest chose teaching as his profession because he had a great teacher in high school and wanted to make the same impact on students. He says he enjoys the students and enjoys running a small game club after school for the students. The part of teaching he enjoys the most is being able to help students strive and achieve in his class as well as life in general. Forrest's message to parents and the community is to thank them for welcoming him into this town and community. 

 Michael Hair

Central High School's Teacher of the Month is Michael Hair. He teaches CAD, engineering and architecture at Central where he has been teaching for 13 years. Michael chose teaching as his career because he really enjoyed his experience with industrial arts in high school and wanted to inspire others to follow a similar career path. Michael says he has 4 excellent colleagues to work with all day in the industrial technical department. He also enjoys watching students overcome the many obstacles and challenges associated with completing their engineering and architecture project through the year. Michael's message to parents is to be as involved as you can with your child's education, ask them about their day and communicate with teachers. 

  
 

 September 2019

Dawn Sheforgen 

South High School’s Teacher of the Month is Dawn Sheforgen. She has been at South High for 14 years where she teaches 9th and 10th grade English. Dawn says she didn’t originally plan to become a teacher but after teaching swimming lessons for many years she realized how she loved seeing kids having “aha” moments when they finally got something and how to do it independently. Dawn says the best part about teaching is connecting with different students and staff on a daily basis. She says the relationships they make as teachers are very fulfilling. She enjoys seeing students work hard to master a challenging skill. Dawn’s message to parents is that success in high school and life starts at birth. Read to your child every night starting at infancy and love on your child even when they think they are too cool. 

 
 Melinda Salisbury  

South Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Melinda Salisbury. She has been teaching for 35 years and has been at South Middle for 18 years where she teaches 7th grade social studies. Melinda says she chose teaching as her profession because as a child she looked up to her aunt who was a teacher. She also grew up with many awesome teachers who were caring and compassionate and inspired her. Melinda says she loves to learn and she enjoys instilling that in her students. Melinda’s message to parents is to stay involved with your child so you can help them grow academically as well as socially. She says it is harder the older they get, but it’s even more important.

 Tracy Hutton  

Lakewood Middle School’s Teacher of the Month is Tracy Hutton. She teaches Career and Life Planning at Lakewood. Tracy has been with USD 305 for 13 years and teaching at Lakewood for 4 years. She chose teaching as her profession because she was inspired by her own teachers. Tracy wants to give her students what her teachers gave her which is hope. She says she has many former students that are now moms and dads, teachers and other professionals and it humbles her to know that they remember her. The part of teaching Tracy enjoys the most is getting to know the students. She says they make teaching fun and she can’t wait to see what they do with their lives. Tracy’s message to parents is that Lakewood has amazing students. 

 Steve Rivers

Central High School's Teacher of the Month is Steve Rivers. He has been in public education for 34 years. Steve chose teaching as his profession because he enjoys serving others and motivating them to be the best they can be so they may give back to their community. Steve says there is always excitement happening and how staff work as a team/school community has a positive school culture. The part of teaching he enjoys the most is when his students take what they have learned and apply it in real life situations. Steve's message to parents is to teach your children to treat everyone with dignity and respect and do the right thing even when no one is looking.