Whitney Morgan, an English language arts and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher at Wyandotte High School, Kansas City, Kansas, Unified School District 500, was named the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year on Saturday, Nov. 17, during a special ceremony in Wichita.
Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson made the announcement at a gathering of 400 people during the Kansas Teacher of the Year Banquet at the Marriott Hotel, 9100 E. Corporate Hills Drive, in Wichita.
“It is my honor to present the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year designation to Whitney,” Watson said. “She is truly a remarkable teacher and very deserving of this honor. Whitney uses collaborative learning to engage students from all backgrounds and abilities. She has demonstrated strong leadership skills at Wyandotte High School and is working closely with her colleagues on school climate. Whitney is a great example of the quality teachers we have in Kansas. I want to wish Whitney and the members of the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year team success as they represent Kansas education in the coming year.”
Morgan was named the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year from a field of eight finalists.
Throughout the coming year, all of the finalists will work as a team to advocate for education and teaching.
Selected from a pool of more than 100 nominations, the other 2019 finalists are: Signe A. Cook, a fifth-grade teacher at Park Elementary School (Great Bend USD 428); Jennifer S. Brown, a first-grade teacher at Sheridan Elementary School (Geary County USD 475); Nicole L. Corn, a kindergarten teacher at Sunset Hill Elementary School (Lawrence USD 497); Sharon L. Kuchinski, a social studies teacher at Leavenworth Senior High School (Leavenworth USD 453); Megan Clark, an art teacher at Clear Creek Elementary School (De Soto USD 232); Lan T. Huynh, a third-grade teacher at Christa McAuliffe Academy (Wichita USD 259); and Tim “T.J.” Warsnak, a social studies teacher at Halstead High School (Halstead-Bentley USD 440).
Morgan began her career as an English and ESOL teacher at Wyandotte High School in 2013. She received her bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a minor in nonprofit leadership in 2012 from Kansas State University. She currently is working on obtaining her master’s degree in English from the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English in Middlebury, Vermont.
Morgan is involved in several leadership roles and professional organizations, and she is a Stanford Graduate School of Education Hollyhock Fellow.
Mary Stewart, principal of Wyandotte High School, called Morgan an “exemplary educator” who “develops effective relationships with students by working to understand their interests and cultural backgrounds.”
“On a daily basis, Mrs. Morgan – both verbally and nonverbally – shows her students that she cares,” Stewart said. “She is firm in holding all students to a high level of performance expectation, yet interacts with each of them with a calm and nurturing approach. She knows each of her students as individuals. She values their uniqueness and sees their potential.”
Kurt Auleta, senior vice president of distribution and sales operations for Security Benefit Corp., presented Morgan with a $4,000 cash award.
In addition, Morgan 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; and The Hubbard Foundation Kansas Teacher of the Year Ambassadorship. The ambassadorship provides funds for travel and other necessary expenses incurred by the Kansas Teacher of the Year.
Morgan also will receive the use of a rental car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car for Kansas Teacher of the Year travel. Jostens Inc. also provided Morgan with a Leader in Education ring.
All eight members of the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year team received 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 the Kansas State Teachers of the Year organization.
The Teacher of the Year program has state and national competitions. The national program, presented by Voya Financial, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Kansas program is sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education.
Morgan is now a candidate for National Teacher of the Year.