Brenda Meyers is at the head of the class among Lawrence elementary school teachers.
Meyers, a second-grade teacher at Quail Run School, was named Tuesday as the district's 2003 Elementary Teacher of the Year.
"This is truly awesome," she said. "I couldn't do this without every single person here."
Meyers had been led to believe the assembly in Quail Run's gym with more than 400 students, teachers and parents was in honor of the school's distinguished chess program.
But when applause for the chess players died down and Supt. Randy Weseman began rattling off the resume of the district's 2003 Elementary Teacher of the Year, Meyers knew better.
"You guys keep pretty good secrets," Meyers said.
The district annually selects an elementary and secondary teacher of the year. The secondary school winner will be announced today. Recipients are eligible for the Kansas Teacher of the Year competition sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education.
Meyers received a standing ovation, three bouquets of flowers, high-fives from her second-graders and dozens of hugs from other children.
"It's unbelievable that people think I'm that noteworthy," she said.
On the contrary, said Quail Run second-grade teacher Linda Anguiano.
"She is always searching for ways to do her job better," Anguiano said. "I feel lucky to work with such a professional."
Michelle Barnes, president of the Quail Run Parent-Teacher Organization, said Meyers passed a key quality-assurance test for a teacher.
"The kids love her," Barnes said.
Meyers has taught in the district for 18 years, working at Riverside and Quail Run schools. She was a substitute teacher in Lawrence, DeSoto, Basehor, Tonganoxie and Eudora.
The five previous elementary winners are Adela Solis, East Heights School; Gretchen Lehman, Kennedy School; Jan Dicker, Grant School; Jeff McAdoo, Quail Run; and Sherry Nelson, Sunflower School.