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Three Salina Teachers Honored

KSAL StaffFebruary 26, 2014

Salina USD 305 honors three teachers. A master teacher and two Horizon award winners are recognized.

According to the district, Brandon Cheeks has been selected as recipient for the Salina USD 305 Master Teacher Award 2014. Nominated by NEA-Salina members, Brandon exemplifies qualities of a Master Teacher including outstanding community service, continuous professional growth, exceptional school service and participation in professional organizations.

Brandon began teaching social studies at Lakewood Middle School in 2005. He earned his bachelor of arts in history and secondary teaching certification from Kansas Wesleyan University. Brandon’s classroom is rich with inquiry learning, integration, technology and cooperative learning. He brings history to life for his students, demonstrating a zeal for teaching and a passion for social studies.

In addition to teaching, Brandon is a local minister and started Fellowship for Christian Athletes (FCA) for students at his school. He coaches cross country, basketball and track and is currently the president of NEA-Salina. He serves on numerous committees throughout the community including KNEA, Kansas Wesleyan University, NAACP and is on the leadership team at St. John’s MBC. He is tireless in his promotion and support of education.

The Horizon teachers are Nora Rindt and Anna Voth.

Nora Rindt is a self-starter who thinks outside the box. She requires very little direction to begin a task or get an idea off the ground. She is an exceptional collaborator who effectively focuses on problem solving. Nora’s work with English Language Learners is challenging. She has pursued additional education and practicum work to help her better meet the needs of her students. Nora stays after the school day to work in the Extended Day Program to the benefit of ESL students in that program.

Nora’s passion for working with English Language Learners shines through. Nora brings in many hands-on learning opportunities for her students to gain background knowledge and build their vocabulary. Her enthusiasm for learning and teaching is infectious. Students who enter her room can’t help but feel cared for and valued every moment they are with her. Nora has also made it a point to get to know other students beyond the ESL program. She makes the learning fun, setting up the activities in game formats. Frequently, students don’t realize that the learning process is underway.

Communication with parents of English Language Learners can present unique challenges. Nora makes it a point to communicate with parents both verbally and in writing whether the news is about successes or areas of concern. Nora works closely with building translators and makes it a priority to attend all Parent-Teacher conferences, even though her caseload is heavy. She is a true believer in making many connections with parents, so they are never surprised when a concern arises or a success occurs; parents of students she serves are frequently updated so that they are instrumental in the education of their child.

Anna Voth may be young and quiet, but she brings an underlying fearlessness to her work. Being a first year teacher is always filled with challenges and it can be difficult to ask for help, but Anna is honest and open to the challenges in her classroom. She has a willingness to seek answers, attempt new solutions, admit when they don’t work and try again and again until she gets it right. Students are her passion, and she wants to be the best possible teacher for them.

Anna’s authenticity and openness to growth transcends directly into the classroom creating a learning environment that is trustful and respectful to the learning experience. When walking past Anna’s classroom, you sense that learning is taking place. Her students are motivated and inspired by the level of effort she puts into her work. They feel comfortable to express any questions they may have because of the way Anna responds in a supportive and positive manner. Her classroom strategizes a balance of flexibility and expectations that allows students to maintain interest without strong characters disrupting the learning environment.

To help her students reach high standards, Anna has embraced Salina Central with open arms. She is willing to do whatever is needed to be involved and build relationships. She is always in her classroom well after the last bell, regularly attends athletic events, assists the scholar’s bowl team and welcomes the challenge of being the 2013-2014 junior class sponsor. Deanna Cullins shared the following statement about Anna, “She motivates and inspires students by simply building purposeful relationships with them. Kids are eager to talk to her. Students feel comfortable around Anna, and it is obvious that there is a level of respect that our student body holds for her.”

Anna Voth is a teacher who is fearless when it comes to her students and improving her craft. She takes great care to find ways to connect learning for her students, helping all of them succeed. Congratulations Anna Voth who was named a Kansas Department of Education 2014 Horizon Award recipient.

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