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Masons recognize standout educators, students PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 December 2017 12:44


• Leader & Times

The students and staff of USD 480 are constantly working hard to make the district a great place to receive an education and Monday evening, Fargo Masonic Lodge #300 of Liberal recognized several teachers and students who have done exemplary work. 

“Fargo Lodge is always working to give back to the community and one of the first ways we are trying to do that is by recognizing exemplary teachers and students,” Fargo Masonic Lodge #300 Worshipful Master Daniel Minde began. “We want to honor teachers and students for their contributions to our community and their dedication to the school system here in Liberal.”

Each building had honorees including: 

Bright Start Early Learning Center: Holly McCarter (teacher) and Xander Gomez (student)

“Holly McCarter is an educator who works diligently teaching the smallest of students their communications skills. As a speech and language pathologist, Holly endeavors to assist students who may have difficulties speaking, listening and understanding,” Minde said. “Although her job title is SLP, it should also include the title of teacher because with her knowledge and expertise in the field of communication, she is able to ensure students make gaines in the ability to express themselves. In addition to helping students, Holly also assists teachers in carrying out the important job of improving students’ communication skills. She does this by demonstrating and sharing tips and ideas for classroom teachers and paraprofessionals. She is very passionate about her job and the importance of children being able to communicate successfully. Holly is not only very involved in school but is also part of the LHS Booster Club and is a wife and mother. When asked what she likes about teaching, she said “Working with children and being able to make a difference in their lives.”

“Mrs. [Cindy] Jones said it was very difficult to choose an exemplary student because all the students at Bright Start are outstanding. Xander Gomez was chosen by drawing,” Minde concluded.

Prairie View Elementary School: Claire Thompson (teacher) and Bryanna Loya (student)

“Mrs. Thompson is an extraordinary music teacher for our K through 5 students,” Minde said. “She knows all 518 students by name, builds positive relationships and inspires students to love music. She engages all students in her fun and interesting instrumental music lessons! She is amazing and among the top educators Mrs. Haskell has known.”

“Bryanna Loya is a 5th grade student and Mrs. Haskell has known her since she was in kindergarten,” Minde continued. “Bryanna came to school as a 5-year-old with challenges to overcome as she had already experienced trauma in her young life. While she struggled academically and socially in kindergarten and 1st grade, Bryanna has worked hard to overcome her hardships. At the beginning of 5th grade, she was accelerating into the dual language program. With no formal education in Spanish, she has moved to reading above grade level text in English and Spanish. Her perseverance, positive attitude and willingness to work make her an exemplary student at Prairie View.”

Sunflower Elementary School: Alicia Birney (teacher) and Ryleemala Hughbanks (student)

“Mrs. Birney is a leader in the building and builds great relationships with students and staff. She is creative in PE lesson plans and coaches three sports,” Minde said.

“Rylee is a great student and likes to help others. She enjoys reading and leads by example. She cares for her classmates and wants everyone to be successful.”

Meadowlark Elementary School: Rosi Estrada (teacher) and Ronaldo Gomez (student)

“Rosi Estrada has taught 2nd grade for five years. She is creative and innovative with strategies used for teaching struggling students,” Minde said. “She was nominated Teacher of the Year in 2016 and Teacher of the Month in September. She has helped write lessons and units for the 2nd grade department.”

“Ronaldo may only be in kindergarten, but he is the nicest, most helpful, loving student,” Minde continued. “He wants to help whomever and whenever. He helps other students tie their shoes, zip their coats and gives classmates a hug at dismissal, even telling them he loves them.” 

Cottonwood Elementary School: Chrystal Watson (teacher) and Katrin Flores (student)

“As a kindergarten teacher, Chrystal has consistently shown strong leadership qualities,” Minde said. “Her highest priority as an educator is to serve the needs of her students. Chrystal is one of the most supportive colleagues Mrs. Mettlen has encountered in her profession and is a role model to a number of peers.”

“Katrin Flores is an outstanding student who models what we envision for each student,” Minde continued. “She has excellent grades and continues to be self-motivated despite obstacles she has had to overcome.”

MacArthur Elementary School: Kate Dodge (teacher)

“Kate Dodge is a 2nd grade teacher and is in her third year of teaching, but this marks the first year Mrs. Workman has had the pleasure of working with her,” Minde said. “She is being nominated for the Masonic Exemplary Teacher Award because of her contribution to the community as well as to her school and her students. One of Mrs. Dodge’s colleagues call her a go-getter, and that is the perfect way to describe her. Mrs. Dodge contributes to the school as a very involved member of the MacArthur PTO. She leads events such as Family Bingo Night, Holiday Shop, T-shirt sales and the Letter House cookie fundraiser. She has been a real cheerleader for helping build such a positive culture within the school. She also created a bulletin board in the workroom for staff shout-outs, which is a place where staff can give affirmations and simple thank-yous to each other. Mrs. Dodge is the lead teacher for the after school program, Project BLAST and helped coordinate Socktober. Throughout October, MacArthur accepted donations of socks and collected nearly 2,000 pairs, which were donated to local organizations in need of these resources. In her classroom, Mrs. Dodge intentionally plans every minute of the day and recently, she began a Snack and Chat activity. Each day, the students receive a snack and Mrs. Dodge incorporates the discussion around a recently read book at this time. Each table group receives a “Snack and Chat” bag with discussion questions. Mrs. Dodge’s lessons flow very smoothly and have been planned with the understanding of her students’ levels of learning and high expectations for growth. She has also invited her students’ families into her classroom with a Thanksgiving learning time and will be hosting an upcoming Lunch and Learn event to let parents see some of the strategies in action. Mrs. Dodge makes a significant contribution to the community, the school and her classroom.”

Eisenhower Middle School: Shelby Bennett (teacher) and Bree Horyna (student)

Ms. Bennett goes above and beyond to help all students meet their full potential,” Minde said. “She spends countless hours creating engaging lessons and activities. She not only accommodates the needs of all students but finds new ways to challenge them as well.”

“Bree is a student leader. She maintains a 4.0 GPA, serves as Student Council president and competes in athletics,” Minde continued. “She is kind and respectful to everyone.”

Seymour Rogers Middle School: Kerri Miles (teacher) and Shiya Bhakta (student)

“Mr. Miles is an outstanding team member, as evidenced by his participating in high grade level’s team and his willingness to share great teaching strategies with all staff members,” Minde said. 

“Shiya Bhakta is an outstanding member at SRMS and is involved in many activities including cross country, basketball and FCCLA, where she serves as vice president.” 

Liberal High School: Heather Watt (teacher) and Joshua Diaz de Leon (student)

“Heather Watt is constantly going above and beyond in exceeding expectations,” Minde said. “She is always looking for ways to improve her teaching, students’ learning and the school as a whole. She is genuine and cares about all students, parents and staff she comes in contact with. She is always willing to help and puts students first.” 

“Josh is always looking for leadership opportunities and is always pushing himself to be the best he can be,” Minde continued. “He is friendly to all students and is not afraid to go out of his way to make those who are less accepted feel accepted at school. He leads by example and is a model citizen.”




About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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