The USD 305 school district recognized its teachers of the year Tuesday evening. Jacy Murphy, kindergarten teacher at Meadowlark Ridge Elementary, and Travis Peterson, special education teacher at Opportunity Now were both recognized by the board at their meeting.
Elementary Teacher of the Year: Jacy Murphy, Meadowlark Ridge Elementary
Jacy received her bachelors in elementary education from Kansas State University and earned her masters in English Speakers of Other Languages from Fort Hays State University. Before joining the kindergarten team at Meadowlark Ridge six years ago, she taught 5th grade at Stewart Elementary.
Jacy’s classroom management is exceptional and she celebrates and corrects students’ behaviors with love and respect. She creates a learning environment that celebrates individuality while at the same time provides the structure and organization needed by all of her students.
At Meadowlark Ridge, Jacy has the admiration of her peers and serves as a resource to her kindergarten team. She has been a representative at the summer Curriculum Academy and serves on the district kindergarten planning committee. Jacy is instrumental in helping her grade level team establish a comfort level in using new technology and incorporating Mastery Connect data in their planning process.
Always inquisitive, she loves to learn whether it be about her students, new teaching practices, or even revisiting old ideas. Jacy continues to push herself to her highest potential as an outstanding teacher. She instills in her students the belief that through hard work and effort all dreams are possible.
Secondary Teacher of the Year: Travis Peterson, Opportunity Now
Travis Peterson earned his bachelors in elementary education and his masters in special education from Fort Hays State University. Now teaching for a seventh year at Opportunity Now, he is also the head cross country coach and assistant track coach at South High School as well as the seventh grade boys basketball coach at South Middle School. Prior to this, Travis taught at Oakdale and South High for a total of seven years.
Travis is an innovative teacher who inspires students to extraordinary academic gains. Also serving as vocational coordinator, he develops relationships with community businesses, establishing work experiences for students that prepare them for life beyond high school.
Consistently advocating for students with disabilities, Travis conveys the value that students are affected by their disabilities, not defined by them. When students struggle with one form of instruction, Travis smoothly shifts gears for students to connect with learning in many different ways. His skill at building relationships with students serves as a catalyst for their academic and social growth.
Bringing a persuasive influence to the school team, Travis’s colleagues are inspired by his ever-present positivity and willingness to implement new interventions. He serves on the Opportunity Now Building Leadership Team as well as the Exceptional Caterers Advisory Council.
Each year two Salina USD 305 instructors are nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. The awards are sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education and affiliated with the National Teacher of the Year program. For 2019, nominations were sought in the spring and the district nominees were submitted to the state in late March. As part of their recognition at the board meeting, Murphy and Peterson each received the H.E. and Erma Lee Nuss Teacher of the Year award; personalized watches donated by Randy Johnson, Jostens; and gift certificates donated by Martinelli’s Little Italy.