Mr. Jeff Baxter, a language arts teacher at Leavenworth High School in the Leavenworth School District (USD 453), was named as the 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year by the Kansas State Department of Education. The announcement was made by Kansas Commissioner of Education, Dr. Diane DeBacker, during an awards banquet at the Wichita Marriott on Saturday evening, November 23, 2013. The program recognized eight finalists for the award from throughout the State of Kansas.
“This is a room of passionate and gifted teachers and I am honored to be among them,” said Mr. Baxter after his selection.
This is Mr. Baxter’s 24th year in the Leavenworth School District. Mr. Baxter teaches AP Language and Composition and Junior-level Honors English. He also serves as the LanguageArts Department Chair at Leavenworth High School.
This marks the second consecutive year that the Leavenworth School District had a Teacher of the Year finalist, with Mrs. Laura Moyers, music teacher at Anthony Elementary, selected last year as the KSDE Region 2 Elementary Teacher of the Year.
“It is truly a pleasure to present this award to Jeff Baxter,” Commissioner DeBacker said. “Jeff’s love of literature is surpassed only by his love of teaching and his ability to really connect with and mentor his students. He clearly delights in their accomplishments and that’s a wonderful quality in a teacher.”
Nominations for the Kansas Teacher of the Year recognition program are made in each of Kansas’ four U.S. Congressional districts. The Kansas State Department of Education appoints regional selection panels to select six semi-finalists (three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers). Panels are comprised of teachers, administrators, and higher education representatives. Each region selects one elementary finalist and one secondary finalist, with the statewide Kansas Teacher of the Year being selected from among the group of eight regional finalists.
"Mr. Baxter is a highly caring and compassionate teacher who genuinely cares about his students and is always working for them in a positive manner. He shows the same caring and concern for staff and colleagues. I cannot think of a better teacher more deserving of this honor," said Dr. Tom Barry, Leavenworth High School principal.
In addition to a certificate presented by the state’s Commissioner of Education, Dr. Diane DeBacker, Mr. Baxter received a $4,000 cash award from Security Benefit, a primary sponsor of the program. He also receives an instructional technology classroom package from SMART Technologies valued at $7,250, and a Lifelong Learning Scholarship from the Kansas Board of Regents, Washburn University, Baker University, Bethany College, Kansas Wesleyan University, Mid-America Nazarene University, University of Saint Mary, Tabor College, and Webster University-Kansas City. He was also presented with a Leader in Education ring from Jostens, and will receive funds for travel and transportation through The Hubbard Foundation Kansas Teacher of the Year Ambassadorship and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
“Mr. Baxter is an outstanding ambassador for Leavenworth High School and our entire school district. We are thrilled for him to receive this honor and to have the opportunity to share his story and ‘Pioneer Pride’ with audiences across the state, said Dr. Bret Church, Assistant Superintendent.
Mr. Baxter now advances on to the National Teacher of the Year recognition program. The national program, sponsored by Target, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with the ING Foundation, the University of Phoenix and People-to-People Ambassador programs.