Two Shawnee Mission educators win state awards for first-year teachers

From left, Dr. Sue Adams, Brookridge principal; Dr. Kenny Southwick, deputy superintendent; Stephanie Wilhite, Brookridge second-grade teacher; and Dr. Jim Hinson, superintendent.
From left, Dr. Sue Adams, Brookridge principal; Dr. Kenny Southwick, deputy superintendent; Stephanie Wilhite, Brookridge second-grade teacher; and Dr. Jim Hinson, superintendent.

Two northeast Johnson County area teachers have been recognized as among the most promising early-career educators in the state of Kansas.

SM West science teacher Matthew Baker and Brookridge Elementary School second grade teacher Stephanie Wilhite are among the select group of first-year teachers honored with this year’s Kansas Horizon Awards from the Kansas Department of Education. Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson informed both teachers on Thursday that they had earned the award.

Brookridge Principal Sue Adams said Wilhite had been instrumental in putting a new strategy for teaching reading skills in place.

“Stephanie demonstrates strength in the relationships she built with her students and teaches each student in a way that gives content meaning to that individual child,” Adams said in a statement.

SM West Principal Steve Loe credited Baker, who also coaches wrestling, with showing the poise of a veteran teacher.

“He does an excellent job of being actively engaged with all students and relates to any type of learner,” Loe said in a statement. “He pushes students and knows how to take them to the next level academically.”

Each year, a committee from each of Kansas’s four congressional districts review nominations for the awards and selects eight teachers from each district.

From left, Steve Loe, SM West principal; Dr. Kenny Southwick, deputy superintendent; Matthew Baker, SM West science teacher; Dr. Jim Hinson superintendent; and Dr. Michael Schumacher, assistant director for human resources.
From left, Steve Loe, SM West principal; Dr. Kenny Southwick, deputy superintendent; Matthew Baker, SM West science teacher; Dr. Jim Hinson superintendent; and Dr. Michael Schumacher, assistant director for human resources.