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Kansas State University recognizes Kansas High School Science Teachers of the Year

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

A group of Kansas high school science teachers stand in front of a limestone wall. They include Sundara Ghatty, Josh Cochran, Eric Nelson, Carl Behrens, Rhonda Reist, Brian McCandless.

Recipients of Kansas State University's Kansas High School Science Teachers of the Year award visited the university's Manhattan campus in late March. From left: Sundara Ghatty, Josh Cochran, Eric Nelson, Carl Behrens, Rhonda Reist, Brian McCandless. Not pictured: Emma Stroyan.| Download this photo.



MANHATTAN — Kansas State University is recognizing seven outstanding Kansas teachers with its High School Science Teacher of the Year Awards.

The award highlights and rewards inspirational and impactful high school science teachers throughout the state. Biology, chemistry, geology and physics faculty members in K-State's College of Arts and Sciences selected the recipients.

Students majoring in biology, chemistry, geology and physics were asked to name the science teachers who inspired them to study science or made a difference in their growth and development, said Pamela Kempton, professor and head of geology. The nominees were then invited to apply, and a committee selected the awardees.

The following high school teachers have received the 2024 Kansas State University High School Science Teacher of the Year Awards:

• Biology: Brian McCandless, Hutchinson High School, Hutchinson, and Emma Stroyan, Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, Hays.
• Chemistry: Rhonda Reist, Olathe North High School, Olathe, and Carl Behrens, Wamego High School, Wamego.
• Geology: Eric Nelson, Bishop Seabury Academy, Lawrence.
• Physics: Josh Cochran, Labette County High School, Altamont, and Sundara Ghatty, Manhattan High School, Manhattan.

"High school teachers scarcely get the recognition they deserve, and the work they do is critically important to the state and to the educational and scholarly mission of K-State," said Christer Aakeröy, university distinguished professor and head of chemistry.

The award recipients, their nominators and a few of their current students were invited to a recognition luncheon March 29 on the Manhattan campus. Each teacher was presented a $500 cash award, a certificate and an artistic piece of glassware custom-made by the university's scientific glassblower, Jim Hodgson. The visitors also received lunch and a personalized tour of the campus and some laboratories.

"The past few years have been particularly challenging for our high school educators," said Tim Bolton, William and Joan Porter professor and head of physics. "So, we wanted to acknowledge their hard work and recognize those extraordinary high school teachers who inspire students to go into sciences."

"We owe a large debt of gratitude to the many gifted high school science teachers across Kansas,” said Mark Ungerer, director of the Division of Biology. “They provide a critical foundation to students who go on to pursue physical and life sciences degrees at K-State.”

The College of Arts and Sciences at K-State offers undergraduate and graduate degrees spanning the natural and quantitative sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and arts and humanities, along with research opportunities, hands-on experiences and robust advising to prepare students for successful careers.

Media contact

Division of Communications and Marketing


College of Arts and Sciences

News tip

Altamont, Hays, Hutchinson, Lawrence, Manhattan, Olathe and Wamego, Kansas.


Brian McCandless
Emma Stroyan
Rhonda Reist
Carl Behrens
Eric Nelson
Josh Cochran
Sundara Ghatty

Written by

Marcia Locke