Lawrence school district recognizes New York Elementary, West Middle School teachers with Horizon Awards

photo by: Contributed

Mary Krieger, left, and Sarah Edmonds, right, were named Horizon Award winners for the Lawrence school district.

Two Lawrence educators in their second year of teaching were recently honored by the school district.

Superintendent Anthony Lewis on Monday announced Sarah Edmonds, a New York Elementary School fourth grade teacher, and Mary Krieger, a West Middle School sixth grade science teacher, as the winners of the district’s 2021 Horizon Awards, which recognize exemplary teachers in their second year of teaching.

Both were surprised by the district at their schools last week and then appeared during the school board meeting on Monday to receive the honor.

Lewis said during the meeting that both of the educators faced challenges, but overcame them, during their first year of teaching last school year, which occurred during the coronavirus pandemic.

“They navigated their first year mostly in a remote setting,” Lewis said. “They rose to the challenge and stood out.”

He also noted that both Edmonds and Krieger are former students of the Lawrence school district.

“That makes recognizing both of you that (much) more special,” he said.

Sarah Edmonds, center, a fourth grade teacher at New York Elementary, stands with New York Elementary Principal Sunny Halsted and Superintendent Anthony Lewis after she was named a winner of the school district’s Horizon Award.

Edmonds was selected for the award for elementary level because of her relationships with students, families and colleagues, Lewis said. New York Elementary Principal Sunny Halsted told Lewis that Edmonds has a way of connecting with people that is “mesmerizing to watch.” Lewis also noted that Edmonds came from a family of teachers and her colleagues considered her destined to be a teacher.

Edmonds told the school board she was honored to receive the award and thanked her fellow educators for the support.

“I’m able to do what I do because of the staff that surrounds me and the team that supports me,” she said. “They are what inspires me to get up every day and give my all for the little tiny humans we work with.”

photo by: Contributed

Mary Krieger, a West Middle School science teacher, stands with Interim Principal Kathy Branson and former Principal Brad Kempf after she was named a winner of the Lawrence school district’s Horizon Award.

Meanwhile, Lewis said Krieger was selected as the winner for secondary education after she was nominated by several colleagues, who said Krieger was an excellent communicator who also had built great relationships with students. Lewis said he was told that Krieger is many students’ favorite teacher, partly because she has two bearded dragons as classroom pets and she uses the social media app TikTok to engage students with her science lessons.

Former Principal Brad Kempf also told the district Krieger was one of the best first-year teachers he has ever hired. Despite remote learning because of the pandemic, Kempf received multiple emails from parents praising Krieger’s ability to connect with students last fall.

Krieger told the board receiving the award was one of the most special moments of her career. She also thanked her colleagues for the support.

“I just feel so lucky to be where I’m at,” she said.

Along with the recognition, both teachers received a $250 cash award. As part of the awards, the school district will nominate Krieger and Edmonds for the Kansas State Department of Education’s Kansas Horizon Award program. The department typically names 32 Kansas Horizon Award winners in January.

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