Briarwood Elementary teacher Jonathan Ferrell named finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year

Briarwood Elementary will be torn down and rebuilt — but whether its nine year old gym will be razed or incorporated into the new structure is unknown.
The look of the old Briarwood Elementary.

Jonathan Ferrell, a sixth-grade teacher in his third year at Briarwood Elementary has been named a finalist of the Kansas Teacher of the Year award for elementary teachers.

The award recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state.

Jonathon Ferrell
Jonathan Ferrell

At the regional Kansas Teacher of the Year ceremony on Sunday, Ferrell was announced as the finalist representing the Third Congressional District area in the competition. Each year, each congressional district area nominates three elementary and three secondary teachers as semi-finalists for the honor, which is sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education. In September, the single finalists at the elementary and secondary level from each of the four regions are announced.

Briarwood Principal Chris Lash said, “Mr. Ferrell is an amazing teacher who builds positive relationships with his students and makes learning relevant. He has created an innovative student-centered classroom where he empowers his students to learn how to invent, create, design, and think critically. Mr. Ferrell integrates STEM resources, such as iPads, a 3D-Printer, and LittleBits, to provide hands-on learning activities for his students. Mr. Ferrell teaches his students to use a growth mindset, so they can learn from their mistakes and persevere as they learn and create things they never thought were possible. His students have a love for learning and many come to school early so they can work on their projects.”

Jason Sickel, a high school music teacher at Blue Valley North was named a finalist for the secondary award.

Ferrell and Sickel were among six Teacher of the Year semifinalists from Region 3, which covers the third U.S. congressional district.

Other semifinalists were Julie A. McEathron, an early childhood special education teacher at the Earl Watson Jr. Early Childhood Center in Kansas City; Heather James, a first-grade teacher at Valley Park Elementary School in Overland Park; Kristen E. Holmes, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Westridge Middle School in Overland Park; and Lindsay McCracken, a ninth-grade English language arts teacher at Bonner Springs High School.

This year’s winner will be announced at the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year State Awards Banquet in Wichita tentatively scheduled for Nov. 19.