Lawrence middle school teacher earns state award that honors the best new educators

photo by: Contributed photo

West Middle School Teacher Chad Aberle, center, was recently named a recipient of the 2020 Kansas Horizon Award, which honors outstanding new teachers. He is pictured here on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, with, from left, West Middle School Principal Brad Kempf, West Middle School science teacher Lucinda Crenshaw, Superintendent Anthony Lewis, and Rick Henry, director of secondary schools.

During a surprise phone call earlier this week, a Lawrence middle school teacher learned that he is considered one of the best new educators in the state.

Chad Aberle, a second-year science teacher at West Middle School, was surprised with the 2020 Kansas Horizon Award on Tuesday when he received a call from Randy Watson, the Kansas education commissioner.

In a video of the phone call that the Lawrence school district published on its YouTube page, Watson could be heard commending Aberle for his work.

“We’re just so proud of you, and we’re proud of the work you’re doing,” Watson said in the video. “Everyone there in Lawrence is so happy that you are there.”

The award honors teachers who have completed their first year of teaching and “have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding,” according to a Kansas Department of Education news release. Aberle is one of 32 teachers to earn the award this year. The winners will be honored during a ceremony in Topeka on Feb. 14.

Aberle told the Journal-World he was “surprised and honored” to win the award and said he could not have received it without the help from his students, mentors and the Lawrence community. Although he has won the award, he said he still intended to work to be a better teacher.

“It is rewarding to see students progress and have success, but you always know there is something you could have done differently,” he said. “The challenge to keep improving and to be a little better each day is what motivates me.”

Brad Kempf, principal of West Middle School, said he thought Aberle was selected for the honor because of his positive outlook and knowledge of the subject matter he teaches. He also mentioned Aberle’s dedication to the students and Lawrence school community.

“He is one of the best young teachers I have had the opportunity to work with as a principal,” Kempf said. “This award sets him apart from other novice teachers statewide and shows his tremendous ability and service to the profession.”

Aberle was previously selected as the Lawrence school district’s Horizon Award winner in September, which put him in the running for the state award. At the time, Kempf commended Aberle for his ability to build relationships with students and their parents.

Aberle’s selection for the state award is also an honor for West Middle School and the Lawrence school district, Kempf said.

“At West Middle School, we want the best teachers in every classroom,” Kempf said. “This award not only showcases Chad’s ability but also the ability of West Middle School and Lawrence Public Schools to recruit, select and retain the best, brightest and most effective teachers for our students.”

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