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K-State College of Education graduates represent one-third of Kansas' best first-year teachers

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

MANHATTAN — The Kansas Department of Education, or KSDE, has announced the 2023 Horizon Award winners, and one-third of this year’s recipients are Kansas State University College of Education graduates.

The Horizon Award is presented to 32 first-year teachers — 11 of whom are K-State graduates — with outstanding teaching skills in four regions that correspond with the state’s U.S. congressional districts. Debbie Mercer, interim provost and dean of the College of Education, said she is proud of the many ways these professionals have contributed to student success and the profession.

"Teaching, especially the first year, is remarkably challenging work," Mercer said. "For so many of our alumni to be identified as outstanding is not only a testament to the caliber of students we attract to our programs but also to our faculty."

Of the 11 teachers honored, five graduated from the online Master of Arts in Teaching, or MAT, program. The MAT was designed specifically for career changers who had earned a bachelor's degree but wanted to transition to teaching.

"It's always gratifying to see the members of our EdCat teaching community receive well-deserved recognition," said Todd Goodson, professor and interim dean of the College of Education. "We have teachers across Kansas making an impact every day in the lives of students, and it is doubly rewarding knowing that our various pathways to teaching are producing so many outstanding educators."

The 11 Horizon Award recipients who graduated from the K-State College of Education are:

• Michelle Barnes, Woodlawn Elementary School, Lawrence USD 497
• Sarah Cormier, Jackson Heights High School, Jackson Heights USD 335
• Ricky Gutierrez, Turner Elementary School, Turner USD 202
• Makinsey Farber, Prairie Elementary School, Haysville USD 261
• Morgan Kaiser, Valley Center High School, Valley Center USD 262
• Jenna Kimble, Union Valley Elementary School, Buhler USD 313
• Ashlyn Kuhlmann, Manhattan High School, Manhattan-Ogden USD 383
• Leslie McCaffrey, Williams Science & Fine Arts Magnet, Topeka USD 501
• Hailey Miller, Maize South Elementary School, Maize USD 266
• Jodee Nickell, Humboldt High School, Humboldt USD 258
• Ashley Sharbutt, Hutchinson High School, Hutchinson USD 308

Barnes, Cormier, Gutierrez, Kimble and McCaffrey earned their education degrees through the MAT program.

Media contact

Division of Communications and Marketing


College of Education

News tip

Buhler, Haysville, Holton, Humboldt, Hutchinson, Kansas City, Lawrence, Maize, Manhattan, Topeka, and Valley Center, Kansas.

Written by

Patrice Scott