On Nov. 15, three local teachers will be named the 2018 Crystal Apple Teachers of Finney County, awarding their efforts in the classroom and celebrating them as some of the county’s best educators.

Each year, a panel of local business representatives select some of the best local teachers from a pool of nominees, ultimately selecting six finalists.

This year’s finalists are A’Lana Bates Aronson of Horace J. Good Middle School, Sarah Drubinskiy of Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center, Violet Dubois of Horace J. Good and Kenneth Henderson middle school, Sarah Harris of Victor Ornelas Elementary School, Barbara Hilt of Garden City High School and Denna Welch-Haney of Abe Hubert Elementary School.

At the Crystal Apple awards banquet, the three winning teachers, who must be contracted, certified teachers at Garden City USD 457, Holcomb USD 363, St. Dominic or St. Mary Catholic Schools or Bible Christian Academy, will receive an engraved crystal apple, $1,000 and an iPad. The remaining finalists will receive $250.

The banquet, hosted by the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce, will begin at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E. Kansas Ave. Tickets are $25.

The Telegram sent each finalist a questionnaire and for the next three days will offer introductions to some of this year’s star teachers. Today, meet Harris and Hilt.

Questionnaires have been edited for style and brevity.

 

Sarah Harris

School: Victor Ornelas Elementary School

Grade/subjects: Third grade

Years at current school: 7

Years at USD 457: 7

Years teaching: 7

Hometown: Perry, Mich.

Family: Parents Bob and Carrie Harris and sister Brandy

Education: Bachelor's of Education from Baker College in Flint, Mich.; Master's in Educational Leadership from Kansas State University

Extra-curricular activities: ITs team, LHD liaison, Staff Retention committee

Community involvement: Wednesday night teacher, adult Sunday school teacher, and board member at Turning Point Church of the Nazarene

 

What made you want to be a teacher?

I always had a passion for working with kids, and so when I was in high school, I had the opportunity to observe in a fourth-grade classroom, which ignited my spark for teaching.

 

What's the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is building a relationship with my students and their families and having previous students come back and greet me with a hug.

 

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

My teaching method is community focused. We spend the year focusing on becoming a cohesive community that works together and where every opinion counts. So different methods I use to accomplish this are town meetings, classroom votes and a teaching growth mindset.

 

How do you connect with your students?

I try to connect with my students in small and big ways. An example of a small way is smiling and looking at them when they are talking so they know they have my full attention. A big way I have started this year is eating lunch with different small groups of students. We talk about anything NOT school related.

 

What are your future goals or plans for your class?

My plans for this class are to continue to build our relationships. This class is very empathetic to the needs of those around them, so I want to continue to build their kindness and perseverance.

 

Barbara Hilt

School: Garden City High School

Grade/subjects: Theater, grades 9-12

Years at current school: 7

Years at USD 457: 7

Years teaching: 7

Hometown: Pittsburg, Kan.

Family: Parents Robert (deceased) and Mary Hilt and siblings Mary Jones, Philip Hilt, Stephen Hilt, Elizabeth Bennin, Alice Hilt and Robyn Hilt.

Education: Bachelor's from Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo.; Master's from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kan.

Extra-curricular activities: Garden City Drama head director, Thespian troupe #2846 troupe director, Drama Club sponsor

Community involvement: Assisted with Recreation Commission summer shows, Junior Productions, Junior Drama Club, and YMCA’s Barefoot in the Park

 

What made you want to be a teacher?

I had started working with students at a girls’ youth home and seen improvement in their grades from starting a study hall. I then started working in my sister’s school on competitive speech and drama and found that I had a real passion for working with teenagers on performance skills ... I had teachers in and out of high school who really shaped who I have become through theatre, and I want to share that passion for the arts, storytelling and life with my students. Every student needs someone to believe in them.

 

What's the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing my students succeed and seeing them redefine what success means. One of the most wonderful moments I have had as a teacher is watching my cast of "In the Heights" win 10 Jester Awards last year at the Music Theatre of Wichita awards show. Seeing the joy in their faces, the surprise and delight, watching them hold each other and cry that they had accomplished something that they didn’t dream was possible ... I want my students to know that they ... are the high achievers and that nothing is out of reach if you put your heart into it and your hard work, time and commitment.

 

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

I teach through a lot of project-based learning. Skills are more authentic when students can see the final product of their efforts. It is why we do four shows a year ... If I can get students to sit in front of the light board and program light cues, build scenery and act in shows, then they can actualize what they are learning and apply those skills to other areas of their learning.

 

How do you connect with your students?

I love every aspect of the program that we have created. I would not want to teach anywhere but Garden City because this town and these students have taught me so much about myself and life that I am very grateful for having accepted this position here. I connect to my students through the work. Putting on productions ... comes with great deal of effort and requires students to give more, do more, be more than they thought was possible ...

 

What are your future goals or plans for your class?

Looking to the future, I really want to keep improving as a teacher. I am always looking for ways to get students to the next level. That next level is for us to be selected for a show at the State level or National level. We had "Hamlet" adjudicated for the International Thespian Festival and Kansas State Festival. If we are selected, we will need community support to get there, but it would be a tremendous opportunity for my students.