Sandra Sanders, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Cordley School, was named a finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year Sunday night.
The 18-year education veteran wore a big smile as she approached the podium to accept her recognition during the an awards banquet at the Lawrence Holidome.
"I considered all the different professions and all the different professions I respect, but there is nothing more worthwhile," Sanders said to a crowd of 300 people.
The Kansas Teacher of the Year award is sponsored by the Nancy Landon Kassebaum Excellence in Education Foundation and the Kansas State Board of Education.
Other finalists were Peggy Andra from Oak Park Elementary School in the Shawnee Mission School District and Damon Roberts from Highland Middle School in the Turner School District. The finalists received a check for $2,000 from a teacher's foundation initiated by Sen. Kassebaum.
The state Teacher of the Year will be named Nov. 4 in Wichita.
The two elementary finalists and one secondary finalist will serve as state education ambassadors throughout the year.
Sanders, who has taught at Cordley throughout her teaching career, said she especially wanted to recognize her husband, Frank, who also is a teacher at the school.
During the ceremony, each of the 3rd District's 14 nominees were introduced, several former Kansas Teachers of the Year spoke and Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, ended the evening by congratulating each educator.
Current and past principals sat with Sanders during the award presentation, along with family and colleagues.
"I'm the guy who hired that gal," Paul Dickens said proudly.
Dickens served as principal at Cordley from 1968 to 1983, working six years with Sanders.
"I just recognized her potential," he said as he gave Sanders a hug.
Janet Broers, another former Cordley principal, said Sanders stood out from the crowd because she succeeds with special-needs students.
"She really cares about every child," said Broers, who's now principal at Sunflower School.