Two Science Teachers Nominated for Kansas Award
Two Emporia science teachers have been nominated by their peers for the 2016 Kansas Teacher of the Year Award. Julie Voelz, sixth grade science teacher at Emporia Middle School, and Frances Wecker, Emporia High School science teacher, learned today they will represent the district in the state awards program.
The announcements were made before school today by Signe Truelove, a past Emporia KTOY nominee, during faculty meetings at EHS and EMS.
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.
Since 2008, Julie Voelz has been a science teacher at EMS and currently teaches sixth grade. Before coming to Emporia, she taught science, gifted education and health education in New Mexico, Montana and Illinois. She has a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and a master’s from Aurora University in Illinois. She completed her endorsements in biology and English as a Second Language. She is member of the EMS AVID Site Team and the site council.
“One reason for student success in my classroom is that I incorporate other disciplines into my detailed lesson planning. I believe it is very important for students to make connections with their learning; not only with other subject areas, but also associations with relevant experiences in their life,” she said.
“I am also passionate about mentoring and honor the thought of ‘paying it forward’ to future educators. Just as with my students, I strive to empower interns and student teachers to delve deep into their being to learn; to continue to evolve into that notable teacher that a student reminisces about at their 20-year reunion”
Frances Wecker teaches earth science, physical science and botany at EHS, where she has taught since 1997. She serves as chair of the Science Department and is a member of the EHS Building Leadership Team. She is a graduate of Emporia State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science and microbiology. She also has a teaching endorsement for English as a Second Language and a Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) master’s degree.
“As a teacher of science, I place much importance on the acquisition of scientific knowledge. However, it is not only academic content that I want my students to come away with. Instead, I am concerned that they become thinkers. I want them to become people who can identify a problem, and then actually do something about it,” she said.
“Students often come to us with issues that have no simple solutions. However, when given the opportunity, and much practice, students can open their minds and become aware citizens that take on their own problems and solve them. Some students take longer than others, and the process requires much patience from all parties. Regardless, they all possess the ability to problem-solve on some level. It is a skill that supersedes the discipline of science, and extends far beyond the walls of high school.”
The Kansas Teacher of the Year Award recognizes and utilizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. Its mission is to build and utilize a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the improvement of schools, student performance, and the teaching profession.
The Kansas Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education. Regional semifinalists will be announced in each of the four Congressional districts next fall. The 2016 Kansas Teacher of the Year will be named in November 2015.