Six local educators have been named finalists for the 2017 Crystal Apple Teacher awards program, with the three winners to be announced Thursday night at a recognition banquet at the Clarion Inn.

The finalists are Janet Hackett of Garden City High School, Sarah Harris of Victor Ornelas Elementary School, Julia Morales of Buffalo Jones Elementary School, Dru Saddler of GCHS, Sarah Shrimplin of Edith Scheuerman Elementary School, and Dixie Teeter of Victor Ornelas.

The Crystal Apple program, through the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce, honors outstanding teachers in Finney County. The top three finalists will be named as Crystal Apple Teachers and will receive an engraved crystal apple, $1,000 cash award, and an iPad tablet. The three runners-up each will be presented with a cash award of $250. The banquet is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Telegram sent each of the finalists a questionnaire. Tuesday’s edition featured the responses of Hackett, Harris and Morales. Today’s edition features Saddler, Shrimplin and Teeter.


Dru Saddler

School: Garden City High School

Grade/subjects: 11-12

Years at current school: 11

Years in USD 457: 11

Years teaching: 11

Hometown: Colby

Family: Wife, Charity; daughters, Serenity and Isa

Education: Colby High School, Bethany College (Anthropology), Newman University (bachelor’s of secondary ed social studies and master’s of science in education)

Extracurricular activities: Garden City Clay Target Club (started spring 2017)

Community involvement: Member and past master of Tyrian Masonic Lodge 246, Garden City

How did you get into teaching?

I was encouraged by my wife, family and friends; because I have a love of history and storytelling. Individuals often view history as dry and boring. As the fifth generation to be born and raised on a farm in western Kansas, I grew up seeing the connection to history. I strive to make history real to my students. We have a connection to the past that can explain the now and the future.

What is the most rewarding part of being a teacher?

Watching students connect the information and understand abstract concepts that they did not think they would ever comprehend.

What is your teaching method, or what unique or different methods do you use in your classroom?

This is a difficult question to answer, as I use various methods in my classroom depending on the subject being taught. I use lecture, class discussion, small group work and individual assignments. Socratic Seminar tends to be a favorite of students. Another example is various simulations to convey real world ideas and processes.

How do you connect with your students?

I am honest and hold all students to high expectations. I make an effort to connect the lessons to their lives and experiences.

What was your reaction when you found out you were a Crystal Apple finalist?

I was in a bit of shock and needed time to let the idea sink in.

What would it mean to you if you won the Crystal Apple?

I would be honored to be recognized and for the validation it would provide to myself and my students.


Sarah Bradstreet-Shrimplin

School: Edith Scheuerman Elementary School

Grade/subjects: First grade

Years at current school: 6 years

Years in USD 457: 9 years

Years teaching: 9 years

Hometown: Garden City

Family: Husband, Chris Shrimplin

Education: Garden City High School (2005); Kansas State University (2008) bachelor’s of science in elementary education; Fort Hays State University (2013) master’s of science in education

Extracurricular activities: After-school program, Community Service Club, partnering with Retired Seniors Volunteer to put together hygiene kits for shelters, make blankets for dialysis patients, fundraise for nonprofit organizations, hold food drives, make cards and placemats for Meals on Wheels and create crafts for nursing homes.

Community involvement: New Life Community Church; husband and I lead worship for our church services and host a weekly Bible study in our home.

How did you get into teaching?

It was truly the kids that led me to teaching. After high school, I planned to become a speech language pathologist. While completing my schooling, I was required to visit classrooms for observations. It was through these observations and watching the kids that made me realize I wanted to become a classroom teacher. I am blessed to work at the school for the deaf and hard of hearing. This has allowed me to use my previous schooling to help these kiddos succeed and has ignited my passion for sign language, which all my students have benefited from.

What is the most rewarding part of being a teacher?

The most rewarding part of being a teacher is spending my day with 20 silly, innovative, strong and remarkable friends, who I get to watch grow up and become respectful citizens who can contribute to our community.

What is your teaching method, or what unique or different methods do you use in your classroom?

… One thing remains constant throughout all teaching methods and that is having fun. We learn through music, dancing, role play, technology and most importantly mistakes. Project Based Learning has become an effective teaching method which allows for all students to become actively engaged while investigating, problem solving and responding to real world application problems. This teaching method lends itself to differentiation, innovation, and communication.

How do you connect with your students?

Building genuine and personal relationships with my students is the foundation of my instruction. It is much easier to engage students when lessons are created around their interests. Having lunch dates, playing soccer with them at recess, and talking to them while waiting for their parents is where these life-long relationships are established. … We don’t see each other as classmates, but as a family that must work together as a team.

What was your reaction when you found out you were a Crystal Apple finalist?

I was humbled, shocked and speechless when I was presented with a bouquet of balloons and named a finalist. I know that there are many outstanding teachers and to be recognized as one of these outstanding teachers is an honor.

What would it mean to you if you won the Crystal Apple?

To be recognized for doing something that I love to do is gratifying. This award would be for all the previous teachers I have had while attending USD 457 who have inspired me. This would be for my parents, who have believed in me and encouraged me to make a difference in the world since I was a little girl. This would be for my sisters, Abby and Lindsay, who have spent countless hours helping me set up my classroom, redoing bulletin boards and conquering mountains of lamination. This would be for my husband, who is my constant through it all.


Dixie (Tichenor) Teeter

School: Victor Ornelas Elementary School, Garfield Early Childhood Center, Head Start and do some home visits.

Grade/subjects: Pre-K through 4th grade

Years with current school: 4 years.

Years in USD 457: 4 years.

Years in teaching: 20 years.

Hometown: Garden City

Family: Son, Trey, 20; daughter, Teryn, 16

Education: Garden City High School (1991); Fort Hays State University (1995) with a degree in communication disorders and minor in psychology; masters in speech-language pathology (1997); currently enrolled in the Autism Certificate Program at Pittsburg State University.

Extracurriculars activities: Help coach high school girls basketball at Holcomb High School.

Community involvement: Activities at church and children’s school district; volunteered at week long vacation bible school; children’s ministry on Sundays; worship team at Bible Christian Church; have coached youth softball, basketball, track and assisted with sport clinics; on Holcomb booster club; part of the TASN Autism and Tertiary Behavior Supports.

How did you get into teaching?

I grew up in a coaching and teaching family and so from a very early age I always knew I wanted to be in some sort of helping profession and work with children. When I was younger, I umpired and coached youth teams, taught swim lessons, volunteered to be a teacher’s aide whenever I could and was a graduate assistant my last two years in college. I do feel the teachers and coaches I had right here in Garden City were also a big influence on choosing this profession. My father, also a teacher and coach, passed away when I was just 11 and many teachers during my education supported and encouraged me along the way.

What is the most rewarding part of being a teacher?

The most rewarding part is seeing your student’s successes. Not just the big ones but small strides too! As a speech-language pathologist, when a student is struggling to communicate and you can help them somehow communicate their wants, needs, feelings, likes and dislikes is such a rewarding experience.

What is your teaching method, or what unique or different methods do you use in your classroom?

I use a variety of methods depending on the students needs that I am serving and if I am providing services in an individual or group setting. I use a lot of visual supports, use positive feedback/reinforcement, and try to set up the environment that allows for maximum success. Having an understanding of each student's strengths, needs and present levels of performance allows me to differentiate activities for each students level of learning.

How do you connect with your students?

Get to know them! Finding out what motivates my students and what their interests are allows me to develop better relationships with them. … Having connections with my students is important, not only because I want to know them, but because I feel when they know I genuinely care for them I get their best effort and work.

What was your reaction when you found out you were a Crystal Apple finalist?

I felt very honored and humbled. There are some great teachers in Finney County and to be nominated is truly an honor. Humbled in the fact when I see the list of nominations and those who have been nominated or won before me, I feel there is no way I should be in this elite group of educators.

What would it mean to you if you won the Crystal Apple?

I am extremely grateful and blessed just to be nominated, so winning the Crystal Apple would definitely be a highlight of my career. However, I feel this award is not only for me, it is for my family who shares my time, my friends who continue to encourage me, my colleagues who continue to teach me new things, my past teachers/coaches who paved my path and for my students who motivate me to be the best teacher.