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KU alum are recognized with 2015 Horizon Awards for first-year kansas educators

March 12, 2015

Several University of Kansas alumni, including three specifically from the KU School of Education, have been named as recipients of the 2015 Kansas Horizon Award by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). The award recognizes exceptional first-year educators. The KU alumni were part of a group of thirty-two first-year educators from around the state who received this distinction and were honored at a special ceremony during the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN) State Education Conference on Feb. 20, 2015 in Topeka.

The Kansas Horizon Award program, which is sponsored by KSDE, allows all school districts in the state an opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the award. To be eligible for the award, teachers must have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding. The program is a regional competition with four regions corresponding to the state’s U.S. Congressional districts. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers may be selected for the award from each region.

Recipients of the 2015 Kansas Horizon Award were notified of their selection by Interim-Commissioner of Education, Brad Neuenswander. Neuenswander remarked, “I want to extend my congratulations to the recipients of the Kansas Horizon Award. These new educators have taken on the challenge of helping all of our students learn to their fullest potential, and I am excited by the quality of individuals we bring to our classrooms each year. I commend each of the award recipients for their dedication to making a difference in the lives of their students.”

The following KU SOE alums were honored:

  • Kelsey Bradley teaches at Indian Valley Elementary School, USD 229 Blue Valley. She earned a master’s degree of education from the Department of Special Education in early childhood in 2013.
  • Laura Hochman, who teaches at South Middle School, USD 497 Lawrence. Hochman earned a B.S.E. in 2011 in English Education. She is currently a master’s student in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching.
  • Katherine Wilber, a teacher at Monticello Trails Middle School, USD 232 DeSoto, earned a B.S.E. in history and government education in 2013.
  • Brittany Roper, a teacher at Shawnee Heights High School, USD 450 Shawnee Heights, earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology through the UKanTeach program in 2013.

Two alumni from the Visual Arts Education program at KU who completed their programs in 2013 were also honored: Taylor Newman, who teaches at Prairie Ridge Elementary School, USD 232 DeSoto, and Alyssa Passmore, at Turner Sixth Grade Academy, USD 202 Turner. 



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#1 public program in nation for special education
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Assists public schools and other partners in all 105 Kansas counties
$938,377 in scholarship funds awarded to 420+ students
Research expenditures of $36,804,773 for 2011-12
Research from KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, assists educators, children, and families across the United States
The award-winning special education faculty published 140 refereed articles, 11 books, and 60 chapters in 2015-16
Students with intellectual disabilities are participating in KU undergraduate programs through a grant-funded KU special education program
Researchers on a $3.5 million grant are collecting data on an innovative reading program designed to teach reading to students with the most significant disabilities in seven Kansas school districts
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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