Lawrence Master Teacher praised for innovation, student engagement

Lawrence High teacher Keri Lauxman, center, is presented with a check after being named the 2015-2016 Lawrence Master Teacher. Lawrence High principal Matt Brungardt, left, Truity Credit Union business development officer Tim Mock, right, and Lauxman's therapy dog, Roxy, are also pictured.

With teachers and school administrators gathered in a Lawrence High School classroom Wednesday morning, the entrance of district officials and Lawrence Superintendent Rick Doll made it clear big news was in store.

“Most of you know when I show up that it’s usually good news,” Doll began. “And we do have good news today, in terms of an award. We have people here from [Lawrence Education Achievement], from the district office, obviously Lawrence High School, and Truity Credit Union — it’s always nice when they show up with a big check in their hands as well.”

After reading comments compiled from those who work with Lawrence High English language arts teacher Keri Lauxman, Doll revealed that she had been named this school year’s Lawrence Master Teacher. Lauxman was presented with a check for $2,500 from Truity Credit Union, a LEA partner that supports the school district’s teacher recognition program.

Keri Lauxman, an English language arts teacher at Lawrence High School, is presented as the 2015-2016 Lawrence Master Teacher, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, at LHS. At Lauxman's side is her dog Roxy, who is a therapy dog in her classes.

“Obviously, in this room there is so much talent, and to be recognized is shocking to me,” Lauxman said. “I’m impressed that you guys went to these lengths to recognize me, and it’s because of you guys that we are so good. Thank you for helping me be a good teacher because I learn from you guys, so thank you so much.”

Lauxman began teaching at Lawrence High in 2007. She teaches students in grades 9-12 in literature, composition, fiction, writing and communication. A couple years ago, Lauxman started teaching students using “blended learning”, a district-led initiative that combines traditional instruction with online and digital media. The goal of blended learning is to create more individualized learning, and nominations praised Lauxman’s innovation and engagement, Doll said.

“First of all, she is an innovator,” Doll read. “She strives for perfection in her work. She’s transformed her classroom into a highly engaging, personalized learning environment.”

Lauxman was also recognized for her use of teaching strategies from AVID, a program that aims to teach students critical thinking and study skills to help them succeed in high-level work and advanced placement classes.

Lauxman’s work also extends beyond her classroom. As the sponsor of the Lawrence High Habitat for Humanity Club, her community involvement was also commended.

“[Lauxman] works with students to develop a strong sense of community spirit and a willingness to serve others,” said Mark Preut, Lawrence High assistant principal, in a news release. “She demonstrates professionalism and passion for her vocation, a commitment to her students’ success in the classroom and in life and is a valuable resource for her colleagues.”

Following the award presentation, Lauxman credited her colleagues for a lot of her success, and said she was thankful to be part of an innovative group of teachers at Lawrence High.

“[They are] teachers who always push each other to be better, so I think this is a win for the team,” she said.

The school district annually selects a Lawrence Master Teacher for local recognition and nominates that educator for the Kansas Master Teacher program sponsored by Emporia State University’s Teachers College. Lauxman will be considered for the statewide award, which ESU will announce in the spring.