Billy Mills teacher recognized as regional semifinalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year award

photo by: Contributed photo

In this undated photo, Shari Flakus, center, plays cards with Lawrence students. The Kansas State Department of Education recently named Flakus, an AVID teacher at Billy Mills Middle School, ]a regional semifinalist for the 2022 Kansas Teacher of the Year Award.

A Lawrence educator has been recognized as a regional semifinalist for the Kansas Teacher of the Year award.

The Kansas State Department of Education on Sunday announced in a news release that Shari Flakus, of Billy Mills Middle School, was one of six teachers of the second region, which consists of the state’s 2nd U.S. Congressional District, named as a semifinalist for the 2022 Kansas Teacher of the Year.

The award recognizes excellence in teaching among the state’s elementary and secondary educators. Flakus fell just short of being named a finalist for the statewide teacher of the year award. Megan O’Neill, a fourth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Ottawa, and Lisa Martinez, a Spanish teacher at Seaman High School in Topeka, were named the finalists for the second region and will be eligible for the statewide award announced in the fall.

Flakus, an AVID teacher, is in her 25th year teaching and 24th year at Billy Mills, which was formerly known as South Middle School. As an AVID teacher, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, Flakus helps seventh and eighth grade students become college and career ready by teaching them organizational skills and strategies and by helping them receive additional academic, social and emotional support.

Flakus told the Journal-World she was surprised to be named a semifinalist but it was nice to be recognized.

“I love teaching at BMMS,” she said in an email. “I always tell my students that if you do what you love, you never have to ‘work’ and I really believe this is true for me.”

photo by: Contributed photo

Shari Flakus

Lawrence Superintendent Anthony Lewis said in an email to the Journal-World that the district is thrilled for Flakus.

“Shari is on a mission to prepare students for success in rigorous coursework and college and careers,” Lewis said. “She has a passion for teaching students how to budget, invest, and begin their adult lives debt-free. Students often come back after they have graduated to visit her and tell her how they are doing.”

Prior to her current position, Flakus taught English, geography, math, communications, photography, and video production. She also has sponsored student council and coached cheerleading, track, and volleyball over the years, according to the district.

Flakus was nominated for the regional award when she was named one of the Lawrence school district’s 2020 teacher of the year award, alongside Amanda Lovett, of Schwegler Elementary School.


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