Lawrence school district recognizes 2021 Master Teacher, Elementary Teacher of the Year award winners

photo by: Contributed photos

On the left, Lawrence High School teacher Barbara Tholen is seen holding her daughter as Superintendent Anthony Lewis names her the winner of the school district's 2021 Master Teacher Award. On the Right, Jennifer Gorup, Quail Run Elementary library media specialist, is seen accepting her cash prize from Truity Credit Union for winning the school district's 2021 Elementary Teacher of the Year award.

The Lawrence school district recently honored two of its educators for excellence in teaching.

Superintendent Anthony Lewis announced Barbara Tholen, Lawrence High School’s journalism adviser and graphic design teacher, as the district’s 2021 Master Teacher, according to a district news release. He also announced Jenny Gorup, a library media specialist at Quail Run Elementary School, as the district’s 2021 Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Lewis surprised both educators with the awards as they were surrounded by staff and students, including Tholen’s young daughter, who ran into her arms. They also were given cash awards: $2,500 for Tholen and $1,000 for Gorup.

Tholen is in her 11th year with the district and LHS, where she has taught a variety of multimedia courses. She serves as the adviser to the school newspaper, The Budget, and the Red & Black yearbook, which was recently recognized as a finalist for a prestigious Pacemaker award.

She was nominated for the award by parents, colleagues and current and former students, including Cortlynn Stark, an LHS alumna and current reporter for the Kansas City Star.

“Mrs. Tholen taught me about the journalism essentials and helped me figure out a career path,” Stark wrote in the nomination. “Ever since I graduated from Lawrence High School in 2015, we have stayed in regular contact and she has helped me through numerous career decisions. She has been my longest supporter in journalism. I would not be where I am today in this field without her and everything she has done for me.”

Meanwhile, Gorup is in her 21st year with the district, where she taught for six years at Sunflower Elementary and has served in her current position since 2006. She was nominated by her colleagues Mandy Sikes and Christina Smith, who are teachers at Quail Run.

They said Gorup constantly improved the school by seeking innovative ideas and resources for the library to share with her colleagues. They also said that she worked with teachers of several grade levels to bring unique learning experiences to students.

“Jenny is an outstanding educator that, as the library media specialist at Quail Run Elementary, has successfully made our library a place where every student, staff, and parent feels welcome,” they wrote.

The district awards both honors annually. The awards also serve as nominations for the state award programs. Tholen will be considered for the Kansas Master Teacher program, which is hosted by Emporia State University’s Teachers College. Gorup will be considered for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, which is offered by the Kansas State Department of Education.

The district has not yet named the Secondary Teacher of the Year winner. Julie Boyle, a spokeswoman for the district, said that award would be announced next month.

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