The state honored two teachers in the Lawrence school district Tuesday for exemplary achievement during their first year in the profession.
Erin Stewart, vocal music teacher at Central Junior High School, and Marcia Riggins, first-grade teacher at Sunflower School, were among 28 educators in Kansas to receive the Horizon Award. The prize is sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education.
"It bolsters your confidence that you're doing something right," said Riggins, of Ottawa.
She received a surprise call at Sunflower from Education Commissioner Andy Tompkins notifying her of the selection.
Stewart, who was told of the honor at Central by Supt. Randy Weseman, said the award was an unexpected pleasure.
"I'm so shocked right now," said Stewart, of Lawrence. "It's quite an award."
Each of the state's 303 public school districts can nominate one elementary teacher and one secondary teacher for the award. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers from each of the state's four congressional districts earn the award.
Stewart and Riggins are in their second year as Lawrence teachers. Both intend to make education their career.
"There is nothing better," Stewart said.
Last spring, budget problems nearly forced the Lawrence school board to lay off dozens of teachers, including Stewart and Riggins.
Both were eventually able to retain their jobs.
This is the second year the state has presented the Horizon Award.
In 2002, Bria Klotz, who is a fifth-grade teacher at Prairie Park School in Lawrence, received the award.