Blake Fingalsen, a kindergarten teacher at Rhein Benninghoven Elementary, has been named one of the 2020 Horizon Award winners for exemplary teaching in her first year.
Fingalsen won the award for Region Three in the state of Kansas presented by the Kansas State Department of Education. The state department recognizes one elementary and one secondary teacher in each of the four state regions.
Fingalsen said she was “very excited and surprised” to learn she was nominated and selected to receive the award.
“It was really exciting to be recognized not only by my colleagues but our administrator and all the other administrators in the building,” she said. “I love teaching, and I feel like I put my heart and soul into it each day, so it’s nice to be recognized and see that they see what I’m doing here with these kiddos too.”
This year is Fingalsen’s first full year teaching at Benninghoven. Her principal, Brittany Gonser, nominated her for the award.
The Kansas Horizon Award program identifies and recognizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state, according to the state department’s website. The mission of the program is to recognize exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding.
For Fingalsen, this moment is a culmination of a lifelong dream to teach children and help them grow and learn every day. She always babysat growing up, and her mother was also a teacher who inspired her in the classroom.
“Even on those tougher days, I can always look back and find things that crack me up or those lightbulb moments when they’re really getting the concepts we’re learning,” she said. “It’s really rewarding. I get to teach them, and they teach me a lot too.”