Susanne Stevenson's inspiration rewarded with Kansas Teacher of Year award

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

An Ottawa High School graduate was honored for her inspiration to young children.

Susanne Stevenson, a fourth-grade teacher at Beeson Elementary School, Dodge City, was named the 2022 Teacher of the Year Saturday, during a  ceremony in Wichita.

Stevenson

“Susanne is truly deserving of this honor,” Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson said. “She serves as a mentor and coach to first-year teachers and is truly dedicated to helping each and every student succeed. I wish Suzanne and the members of the 2022 Kansas Teacher of the Year team success as they represent Kansas education in the coming year.”

Stevenson was named the 2022 Kansas Teacher of the Year from a field of eight finalists. Stevenson is now a candidate for National Teacher of the Year.

Stevenson has authored and been awarded several grants that help bring diverse and authentic learning to the students at Beeson. She has been a member of the building leadership team and the school improvement team and has served on the curriculum audit team for her district. She also has facilitated professional development opportunities for Dodge City USD 443 and Southwest Plains Regional Service Center.

Stevenson not only teaches and leads at Beeson, she “inspires children on a daily basis,” said Martha Mendoza, who served as principal of Beeson Elementary last year and now is principal at Dodge City High School.

“Miss Stevenson’s classroom is inspiring because you know every child is learning,” Mendoza wrote in a nomination letter. “She provides her students with purpose, direction and motivation to accomplish her mission – to educate them. Every child is an individual, so you will often find a variety of strategies being used to reach all her students.”

Justin Coffey, assistant principal of Ulysses High School and the 2016 Kansas Teacher of the year, worked with Stevenson in multiple capacities during the past five years. Stevenson delivers “powerful learning experiences for her students by brining math and science to life,” Coffey said.

“Susanne utilizes coding, robotics, rockets and dissections to provide hands-on experiences for her students,” he wrote in his nomination letter. “I remember observing Ms. Stevenson’s math class where students were literally on the edge of their seats, enthusiastically anticipating the day’s learning because Susanne’s passion for the subject completely infected her students. In Ms. Stevenson’s classroom, kids are more than just students – they are scientists, engineers and coders.”

Selected from a pool of more than 130 nominations, the other 2022 finalists are Amber Carithers, a secondary teacher at Hutchinson High School (Hutchinson USD 308); Lisa Martinez, a secondary Spanish teacher at Seaman High School (Seaman USD 345); Megan O’Neill, a fourth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School (Ottawa USD 290); Natalie Johnson-Berry, a secondary teacher at Shawnee Mission North High School (Shawnee Mission USD 512); Amanda Ketterling, an elementary teacher at Bonner Springs Elementary School (Bonner Springs USD 204); Kristin Salazar, a secondary business and CTE teacher at Eisenhower High School (Goddard USD 265); and Laurie Thisius, a fourth-grade teacher at Cheney Elementary School (Cheney USD 268).

All eight members of the 2022 Kansas Teacher of the Year team receive a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit and a red marble apple from the Master Teacher in Manhattan. In addition, each will receive Capturing Kids’ Hearts training from The Flippen Group, of College Station, Texas, and a one-year membership in Kansas State Teachers of the Year organization.

Throughout the coming year, all of the finalists will works as a team to advocate for education and teaching.

Stevenson has taught seven years – all at Beeson Elementary School.

She received her bachelor of science degree in education in 2014 from Emporia State University. In 2019, Stevenson received her master of science in education with a concentration in English as a second language from Newman University in Wichita.

Stevenson was presented a check for $4,000. In addition, Stevenson will receive the Kansas Teacher of the Year Lifelong Learning Scholarship to attend participating universities free of charge as long as she continues teaching in Kansas. She also will receive The Hubbard Foundation Kansas Teacher of the Year Ambassadorship, which provides funding for travel and other necessary expenses incurred by the Kansas Teacher of the Year.

Stevenson will receive the use of a rental car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car for Kansas Teacher of the Year travel, and Jostens Inc. will provide Stevenson with a Leader in Education ring.