Distinguished Teachers 2004


Christian Schools

Awards2004_1TaylorKevin Taylor has been a vital member of Trinity Academy in Wichita for the past seven years. He teaches Spanish and Bible and is the Chair of the Foreign Language Department. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and a Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Wichita State University. He also taught at the InterAmerican School Quetzaltenango, Guatemala from 1995 to 1997.

Beyond his academic excellence, Mr. Taylor has been instrumental in starting a Servant Leadership program where students volunteer at a “people-oriented” organization or ministry every two weeks. Trinity Headmaster David Swank said, “In addition to being a talented teacher Kevin truly loves his students and pours his life into theirs. He has a humble attitude that draws students to listen to his godly counsel.”


 Diocese of Dodge City

Awards2004_2EckelsConnette Eckels is in her 28th year as a primary grade teacher at Sacred Heart in Ness City. Currently, she teaches kindergarten, first grade and Jump Start (pre-kindergarten) students. Her principal, Ann Depperschmidt said that Mrs. Eckels routinely accepts new challenges with grace and a positive attitude, and she demonstrated her dedication to the school when she volunteered for three years to serve as Head Teacher. Mrs. Eckels received her Bachelor of Science degree from Fort Hays State University.

Sacred Heart has been part of Mrs. Eckels’ life since she attended school there. Mrs. Depperschmidt said, “Connette has a talent and a true gift to teach primary age students. Her gentle spirit and her ability to enhance the students’ self esteem are totally dynamic in the teaching field.”


 Independent Schools

Awards2004_3HawleyDave Hawley is known not only as an outstanding seventh grade American History teacher at Wichita Collegiate School, but for his near “legendary” ability as a tennis coach. During his 26-year tenure at Collegiate, Mr. Hawley has coached the boys’ tennis team to 15 State Championships and the girls’ team to 13 State Titles in a row. He’s been named Kansas Tennis Coach of the Year and Midwest Coach of the year six times each.

Mr. Hawley received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harding University. “Wherever Mr. Hawley is, he is surrounded by kids, and wherever they are, he is teaching them. Students come back from their high school and college history classes saying they remember it all from their 7th grade class,” said Bunny Hill, Head of School, Wichita Collegiate Middle School.


 Lutheran Schools

Awards2004_4AberleJan Aberle is an invaluable kindergarten teacher at Holy Cross Lutheran School in Wichita and has been providing outstanding education and encouragement to kindergartners at Holy Cross for the past 25 years. Her love for the children, conscientious preparation, and experience in working with primary school children has ensured the success of her students. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wichita State University.

Holy Cross Principal Bill Dieckhoff said, “Her students, parents, colleagues and administration hold Jan in high esteem. They recognize Jan as an important member of the Holy Cross teaching team and many of her innovative ideas are gleaned through her continual growth in local university classes and workshops. She has been a faithful servant to the Lord’s little ones for 25 years.”


 Diocese of Salina

Awards2004_5OttTrish Ott teaches first grade at Manhattan Catholic School and has done so since 1997. During her 13 years at Manhattan, she has also taught second grade and served as principal for a year. She excels as a reading teacher and has a deep love for teaching children to read. Mrs. Ott received her degree in Education and English from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. She also has a degree in Educational Management from the University of Houston at Clear Lake City.

Manhattan Principal, Tom Schmitz said, “When students have Trish for a teacher they are given such a solid foundation on which to build. She is a personal example of the love and caring that is the strong hold of our Catholic School. A faith community is alive in her classroom.”


Diocese of Wichita

Awards2004_6KabaNell Kaba is a third grade teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Wichita where she has taught since 2000, and also attended as a student. Mrs. Kaba has served in the Wichita Diocese for 28 years, with 23 years as a primary teacher and five years as the Director of Harbor House –the Wichita Diocese shelter for abused and battered women. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Kansas Newman University.

“Mrs. Kaba is an outstanding teacher and we are blessed that she chose to return to her Alma Mater at this point in her teaching career,” Dan McAdam, St. Joseph Principal, explained. “Nell is also very much filled with the Holy Spirit and this is most evident in the depth of faith that is demonstrated by her students.”