Two EMS Teachers Nominated for State Awards

Dec 2, 2015 | District News Release

Janine Dorr (left) and Joann McRell (Gazette photo)

Janine Dorr (left) and Joann McRell (Gazette photo)

Joann McRell and Janine Dorr have been selected as Emporia nominees for Kansas Master Teacher and Kansas Teacher of the Year. The two Emporia Middle School teachers were surprised with the announcements during a faculty meeting today at the school.

McRell has been named the Emporia Master Teacher for 2016 and she is now eligible for the Kansas Master Teacher Award to be announced by Emporia State University in February. The Emporia Master Teacher Award is presented each year by the Emporia NEA, and the honoree becomes the Emporia nominee for the Kansas Master Teacher Award.

Dorr has been selected as a nominee for Teacher of the Year, an award given in November by the Kansas State Department of Education.

Emporia Master Teacher

McRell, an eighth grade language arts teacher, began her teaching career in 1989, specializing in language arts and special education. She has taught in Nebraska and Kansas, and first came to Emporia Middle School to teach for a year in 1991. She returned to EMS in 2001 where she has taught English, special education and served as a Reading Strategist and a Team Leader.

She writes in her philosophy of teaching, ” One of the greatest rewards I find in teaching is when the light turns on . . . when a student steps from the shadows of confusion and disbelief and into the confidence they can achieve.  For this, I strive.”

McRell continues, “The first step in this belief is providing an environment of trust.  Building a classroom community in which everyone has an integral part is important.  Students come to trust the fact that I listen to their needs and frustrations, push in order for growth, and when I push too far — respect and listen to what their needs are once again. Good rapport with students is vital for change and growth — educationally, socially, and emotionally.”


Kansas Teacher of the Year Candidate

Janine Dorr has been a teacher in the Connections program at EMS for the past 17 years, teaching students with severe emotional disturbances.  She came to EMS in 1999 after two years as a special education teacher in Arkansas City.

In her philosophy of teaching, she cites a quote from Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia philosophy: “The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences. We must widen the range of topics and goals, the types of situations we offer and their degree of structure, the kinds and combinations of resources and materials, and the possible interactions with things, peers, and adults.”

She adds, “My teaching career has centered round students who have been diagnosed, either medically or educationally, with some type of emotional and/or behavioral disorder. By the time students are placed with me, they have missed out on so much in the classroom, school, and community because of these behavioral issues, yet we still expect these students to thrive academically. My goal, as a teacher is to offer a range of opportunities, experiences, and expectations to my students that move them from the familiar and toward the prospect of success.”

Established in 1953, the Master Teacher Awards are presented annually to teachers who have served the profession well and who typify the good qualities of earnest and conscientious teachers. Candidates for the awards are typically nominated by local teacher associations and school faculties. Selection of seven award recipients is made by a committee in the spring.

The Kansas Teacher of the Year Program recognizes teachers who serve as leaders in the profession across the state. Nominees are full-time classroom teachers who have completed at least five years in the classroom. Each district may nominate two teachers, one from the elementary level and one from the secondary level. Regional semifinalists will be announced in each of the four Congressional districts next fall, and the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year will be named in November 2016.

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