From the USD 231 website:
Over the past few months, nominations have been submitted and applications completed for the USD 231 Teachers of the Year program. As with all candidates in past years, two excellent educators have been selected to represent Gardner Edgerton School District in the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. This year, Kent Muyskens, GEHS chemistry teacher; and Rhonda Wedel, Pioneer Ridge Middle School math teacher, were chosen as the USD 231 Teachers of the Year.
Rhonda Wedel has taught middle school math since 2004. Prior to Gardner Edgerton, Wedel worked in the Olathe and Blue Valley school districts. She holds a Kansas K-9 Elementary Professional License, Kansas 5-8 Mathematics Professional License, Missouri Elementary Education 1-6 Career Continuous Professional Certificate, and a Missouri Mathematics 5-9 Career Continuous Professional Certificate. She received her master’s degree from Baker University.
Wedel has presented various topics for professional development and has received awards and recognitions such as, My Favorite Teacher Award for Middle School Age Group, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, April 2012; 2012-2012 Oxford Middle School Sunflower Award Recipient; Blue Valley Kansas Teacher of the Year 2012 nominee; Blue Valley Excellence in Education Award, March 2011; Blue Valley Kansas Master Teacher nominee, 2011; and Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching nominee.
Rhonda says her goal is to promote positive learning; to have a clear understanding of the math curriculum, instruction and assessment tools; and to create a strong math foundation. Most importantly, she shares that she strives to bring a lot of energy to the classroom by having fun and developing high interest, real-world lessons and activities.
“Mrs. Wedel is constantly looking to improve student learning. She will go the extra mile for any student at any grade level who needs support,” said Mrs. Miesner, Pioneer Ridge Middle School principal. “On multiple occasions, I have had students in my office after school and she has passed by and offered help regardless of the grade level of the student. Her desire to make the school a great place for students has been essential for our school success.”
Kent Muyskens has been teaching chemistry since 1985. He holds a Kansas Teaching License in 6-12 in chemistry, mathematics and physics; and holds an Iowa Teacher License 5-12 in chemistry, physics and mathematics.
Muyskens was named Northwest I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher of the Year in 2016 by the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. He has presented at several education summits and technology seminars, and over the past seven years, has taken students to NASA, Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for the Space Settlement Design Competition where students worked with NASA Engineers to design a futuristic space settlement.
Muyskens says of all the honors and awards he has received over the years, he takes great pride in the fact that students tell him that they are successful in college chemistry, and appreciate how hard he pushed them in high school. “Teaching is about affecting students’ lives, and the greatest accomplishment that I could ever hope to have is affecting the lives of my students in a positive way,” said Muyskens.
“In my short time knowing Mr. Muyskens, it is easy to say he is a master teacher,” said Andrew Kipp, fellow GEHS chemistry teacher. “His attention to detail, consistently innovative and engaging lessons, eagerness to continue to learn, and his work ethic allow him to help students grow to their maximum potential.”
Each year the Kansas State Department of Education looks for one outstanding teacher to become its Teacher of the Year, and sponsors a statewide competition. Each school district in the state is given the opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher. Once selected as a District Teacher of the Year winner, an extensive application process must be completed to move onto the regional competition. A regional selection committee is responsible for selecting six semi-finalist, three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers at the regional level. Each regional finalist becomes a state finalist for the Kansas Teacher of the Year.