De Soto teacher tours the state with team
Tana Priddy says she's learned a lot being a finalist for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program.
Priddy, a Shawnee resident, is a reading specialist at Starside Elementary School in De Soto. As a reading specialist, Priddy helps with students who have been identified as having trouble in reading.
Priddy came to Starside after teaching fourth grade and discovering how a student's ability to read impacted their learning.
"I struggled with reading when I was younger and was in the third grade when a teacher made an impact on my life," Priddy said. "Because of her, I knew I wanted to become an educator."
As part of a team of the state's top teachers, Priddy is traveling to seven schools this semester and visiting Topeka to discuss education issues with state legislators. The Kansas Teacher of the Year finalist team has seven members from Topeka, Seneca, Wamego, Haysville, Buhler and Shawnee Mission. Ron Poplau, a teacher at Shawnee Mission Northwest, was named Kansas Teacher of the year and is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year. The team is also visiting universities to encourage college students to become teachers.
"I'm amazed at all of the learning that has taken place," she said. "I've grown so much professionally. To be able to reach out across the state and see all the kids has been great."
Priddy even spoke to education committees about the importance of funding all-day kindergarten and early intervention programs in Kansas.
"Any time you have a student with reading problems, you try to catch them early," she said.
Priddy also played host to the team that visited the De Soto district last month. The teachers visited Starside Elementary, Lexington Trails Middle School, Prairie Ridge Elementary School's preschool program, Mill Valley High School's integrated social studies program and community service class and Monticello Trails' teacher Keil Hileman's museum room.
Priddy also visited Nemaha, Wamego and Topeka school districts to learn about their education strategies. Priddy said she learned new methods of student intervention and got ideas for math carnivals at the middle school level. Starside has special math and reading nights, but a middle school math carnival was a new idea, she said.
"That's one of the reasons for this program," Priddy said of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. "We look for successes that we can implement. The buildings are so unique, but we still share some of the same issues."
Priddy said she was honored to represent many outstanding teachers in her region in the Kansas Teacher of the Year program this year.
The De Soto School District has had a finalist or semifinalist in the Kansas Teacher of the Year Program for seven years in a row. Teachers are named finalists in November. This year's nominations to represent De Soto schools from each building are: Milinda Leas, Clear Creek Elementary; Kathy McBride, Mize Elementary; Breanna Wiebe, Starside Elementary; Carrie Mugridge, Prairie Ridge Elementary; Rachele Hill, Riverview Elementary; Kelly Rettig, Countryside Learning Center; Scott Sharp, De Soto High School; Jeff Strickland, Mill Valley High School; Kristen Springer, Monticello Trails Middle School and Patsy Beadle, Lexington Trails Middle School.