Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of three sets of profiles on this year’s Crystal Apple finalists.

On Thursday, 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. Thursday at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E. Kansas Ave. Tickets are $25.

The Telegram sent each finalist a questionnaire to fill out and return. On Thursday, we featured Harris and Hilt, and on Friday, Bates Aronson and Dubois. Today, meet Drubinskiy and Welch-Haney.

Questionnaires have been edited for style and brevity.


Sarah Drubinskiy

School: Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center

Grade/subjects: Math grades 5-6

Years at current school: 6

Years at USD 457: 6

Years teaching: 6

Hometown: Middleville, Mich.

Family: Husband, Yuriy Drubinskiy; brother and sister in Michigan; and a dog, Jane

Education: Bachelor's in journalism and creative writing, special education certification and minor in secondary English education from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich.,

Extra-curricular activities: Big Brothers Big Sisters, robotics

Community involvement: Co-founder of GEAR (Girls in Engineering and Robotics)


What made you want to be a teacher?

I had wanted to be a teacher when I was younger, but I didn’t have a good high school experience and decided to go in a different direction. I graduated with a journalism degree during the economic recession and couldn’t find a job that would allow me to pay back my student loans. I decided to go back for teaching, and I’m glad I did. Once I started the program I was able to work with students from pre-K to college and I realized I was able to explain content in multiple ways to help different learning styles. I cared about the classes and people I was working with in a way I never did during my first four years in college.


What's the most rewarding part of your job?

I love when students realize they aren’t bad at math and become leaders in the class for the first time.


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

I turned my classroom into a game to encourage participation and collaboration. The students gain experience points for working hard, volunteering and helping others. I put assignments on a quest system where students gain gold pieces and experience points for completing their work. ... When we learn new content, my goal is to set up problems in a way that the students figure out what the rules are instead of me directly teaching them.


How do you connect with your students?

I’m an athlete, a gamer and a nerd. I enjoy talking about Pokemon, video games I have in common with the kids and going outside to play soccer or rugby with them.


What are your future goals or plans for your class?

I would like to have more cross-curricular projects. I have a project planned with one of the reading teachers that will involve wiring up and programming an interactive diorama.


Denna Welch-Haney

School: Abe Hubert Elementary School

Grade/subjects: Special education, kindergarten and first grade

Years at current school: 6

Years at USD 457: 13, previously a truancy officer

Years teaching: 6

Hometown: Lakin

Family: Husband, Scott Haney; daughter, Cora Welch; son, Montana Maas; daughter-in-law, Kaiya Maas; and grandson, Talon Maas

Education: Associate's from Garden City Community College, bachelor's from Newman University and master's with an emphasis on special education from Emporia State University

Extra-curricular activities: AHES Science Olympiad coach for grades 5-6

Community involvement: Community leader for People Pleasers 4-H Club in Lakin, Kearny County Extension Council Executive Board member, Kearny County 4-H Program Development Committee member, Kearny County 4-H Foods and Food Preservation leader, Kearny County Adult 4-H volunteer, Garden City Arts member, Lakin Church of Christ member


What made you want to be a teacher?

When I was a truancy officer, I watched students struggling in school. I wanted to better be able to help these struggling students, so I became a teacher.


What's the most rewarding part of your job?

I think the most rewarding part of my job is when my student gets the concept that we have been working on. The ‘ah ha’ moments are the best.


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

I have a very small classroom group, which allows me to really get to know my student’s learning styles and present the information to them in the learning style that best meets their needs. Most of my students are very hands-on, and we do a lot of hands-on activities. We have a lot of movement in my room, and my students are able to choose where they work, such as at the table, the floor or standing. ... I also incorporate music and rhymes into our learning that help students recall information easier.


How do you connect with your students?

I connect with my students by providing a safe, fun learning environment. We work on their skills in fun, individual ways with lots of hands-on activities. Students like coming to my room because of the hands-on activities, which they often call games. As a class, we take time to share and talk about the happenings in our day and lives. This allows me to connect with them individually. ...


What are your future goals or plans for your class?

My future goals are to continue as a special education teacher. I would like to continue to learn more about working with students with behavioral and emotional issues and could see myself working in a behavior or emotional disturbed classroom.


Want to learn about any of the finalists you missed? See the other Q&As at www.gctelegram.com.