Meet the USD 500 Teachers Named Horizon Award Winners

Each year, the Kansas State Department of Education, (KSDE) gives school districts the opportunity to nominate two educators who have just completed their first year of teaching—one first year elementary teacher and one first year secondary teacher. The teachers nominated for their outstanding skills then go before KSDE who then selects the educators they feel are the most deserving. This recognition is known as the Kansas Horizon Award program.

Without further ado we would like to introduce you to our two USD 500 winners:

Elementary School Winner: Perlita Dominguez/Second Grade Teacher Frank Rushton

Perlita Dominguez portraitWhat drew you to teaching? 
“My mom was a teacher for 43 years. She is retired now but taught Spanish at the middle school, high school, and college levels. Her passion for teaching and love for her students was something I always admired growing up.  I saw first-hand the impact she had on her students and our community and wanted to do the same.”

What have you learned during your first year at KCKPS? 
“During my first year at KCKPS, I have learned a lot. The most important things that I have learned are that there will always be room for growth and improvement, to never be afraid to ask for help, to be confident in the teacher you are becoming, and to set boundaries for yourself.”

What is something that people may not know about you—maybe not even your students? 
“After college, I spent two years living and teaching English abroad. I lived in Madrid, Spain, and then in Lampang, Thailand. I was able to travel to 13 different countries during that time. It was such a fun and special time in my life that I will never forget.”

What would you say to someone considering teaching? 
“Being a teacher means you are shaping the lives of your students. You are helping them grow and learn academically, socially, and emotionally.  I have a quote on my classroom wall that says “The future of the world is in this classroom.” And from the bottom of my heart, I believe this to be true.  I am not only preparing my students for second grade but I am teaching them the skills they will need for the rest of their lives. Being a teacher is a challenging career but it is also one of the most impacting and rewarding careers you could choose. “ 

Secondary Level Winner: Lauren Sage/ 9th grade Science at F.L. Schlagle

Lauren Sage portrait What drew you to teaching?
“I became a teacher because I wanted to help students use their voice and power to make the changes that they want to see in the world.”

What have you learned during your first year at KCKPS?
“I learned to be flexible but prepared, and I also learned that a whole lot of learning and relationship building can happen despite being miles and miles away from my students.”

What is something that people may not know about you—maybe not even your students?
“I speak French (semi-fluently).”

What would you say to someone considering teaching?
“If your goal is to uplift their students, then go for it!”

Posted January 11, 2022

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