Two novice Lawrence teachers received an early-morning surprise this week, as both were honored for being among the best new teachers in Kansas.
Amanda Bayens, a second-grade teacher at Pinckney School, and Emilie Block, a Southwest Junior High School interrelated resource room teacher, each received Lawrence Horizon Awards.
"I've heard great things about these two teachers," said Supt. Randy Weseman, who surprised Bayens and Block with visits to present them with the honors Wednesday and Thursday mornings at their schools.
"They both bring strong academic backgrounds and lots of energy and enthusiasm to our school district," Weseman said. "Their focus is on meeting the individual needs of each student."
The annual awards go to teachers entering their second year as instructors. The teachers are nominated by principals and staff, and Weseman makes the final selections.
Weseman will nominate Bayens and Block for the statewide version of the honor, the Kansas Horizon Awards program, sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education.
Block said getting the award was "really great."
"I love to teach kids. I love to teach special ed. It's very rewarding every day," Block said. "It's awesome to be recognized for all the hard work that you do."
Trish Bransky, Southwest's principal, said Block, a graduate of Northern State University in South Dakota, had become a strong educator.
"She worked so hard to figure out what the special learning characteristics of each of the kids on her caseload were," Bransky said. "The lady is tireless. I think she's just a rising star."
Lesa Frantz, Pinckney principal, said Bayens, who received a bachelor's degree at Washburn University in Topeka, "does an exceptional job."
"Amanda provides an exceptional classroom climate," Frantz said. "She is a lifelong learner. She just really is a shining star."
Bayens said she was honored by the award and was glad to be recognized for the long hours she puts into teaching.
"I love passing my kind of thirst for knowledge on to my students," she said. "I really do believe that just having knowledge is really powerful."