Distinguished Teachers 2011


Christian Schools

11McClehahanJerald (Jerry) McClenahan has taught science at the high school level at Berean Academy since 1979, and has dedicated his career to providing a solid scientifi c foundation for his students. Additionally, he serves as the sponsor for Student Council and National Honor Society at Berean.

Mr. McClenahan is a life-long learner who has been involved in education at the secondary, post-secondary and research level during his career, and is also a science instructor at Butler Community College. “Mr. McClenahan is viewed by his students and colleagues as a great encourager and always willing to go the second mile with a student who may be struggling. Most importantly, he serves as a model of a man of faith and integrity for all who know him,” said Terry Tilson, Berean Academy Superintendent.

Mr. McClenahan received a Bachelor of Science degree from Kearney State College in 1977 and a Master of Science degree from Wichita State University in 1990.


Diocese of Dodge City

11HammerLois Hammer is in her 23rd year of teaching second and third grade at St. Joseph Catholic School in Ellinwood. She is a faithful teacher whose classroom environment is one that encourages independent learning and individual responsibility. She has also lovingly prepared 22 second grade classes to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. Additionally, Mrs. Hammer has served on numerous community projects and helped establish the Special Olympics in Barton County.

“Mrs. Hammer is truly a devoted teacher. Her students work diligently to complete assignments so as to participate in the unending supply of hands-on learning games or activities available in the classroom,” said Marlene Clayton, Lead Teacher, St. Joseph School. “The children clamor to play these ‘games’ with fellow classmates, all-the-while developing valuable interpersonal and academic skills.”

Mrs. Hammer earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education at Emporia State University in 1971 and her master’s degree from Fort Hays State University in 1976.


Independent Schools

11SmolaMarcia Smola has taught second grade at The Independent School for 25 years and is recognized for her innovative curriculum, which has even included a pet tarantula in her classroom. She places high expectations on her young students and guides them as their confi dence grows. She has been active in the committee leadership, capital campaigns and planning sessions of the Lower School and served as Co-Interim Head of the Lower School in 2009.

Karen Norton, Head of The Independent School, 1981-2006, said, “Marcia Smola is a dedicated teacher, who has inspired nearly 30 years worth of students to bigger and higher aspirations. She is well known for her compassion and love for her students. She has also contributed to the success of The Independent School, and stepped
up to lead and encourage students, family members and teachers when needed.”

Mrs. Smola obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Kansas in 1974.

Lutheran Schools

11DieckhoffKathy Starr works faithfully as a Kindergarten teacher at Faith Lutheran School in Derby, to educate each child as a unique gift from God. Mrs. Starr first started in 1989 as the pre-school director and teacher for Faith Lutheran. In 2001, she moved to the elementary school and served as acting principal for six years. As an educator, Mrs. Starr is particularly talented at identifying the specific needs of her students and finding solutions to meet those needs.

“Kathy has the special gift of making each child feel loved and special,” said Paul Mieger, Faith Lutheran Principal. “Her organization skills are beyond compare as seen both in her classroom and in her work in other areas of the school.”

Mrs. Starr began her career in 1975 as a fi rst grade teacher in Pratt and Haysville. She earned her BS in elementary education from Kansas State University in 1975.

Diocese of Wichita

11PayneLisa Payne serves as both the principal and a sixth grade teacher of Holy Name Catholic School in Coffeyville, which is her alma mater. While she is an exemplary administrator, teaching is her vocation and her true love. Since joining the faculty in 2003, her strong math teaching skills have resulted in Holy Name reaching the state standard of excellence every year.

“Lisa is a wonderful teacher and principal. She is an industrious person, working and teaching over and beyond her duties,” said Father Ben Nguyen, Pastor of Holy Name Church. “Her professionalism in the classroom greatly encourages the children to desire to learn more and be well-educated in all their subjects.”

Mrs. Payne began her teaching career in 1986. She received her BS in education from Pittsburg State University in 1984. She also earned two master’s degrees from Pittsburg, one in special education in 1994 and a second in school leadership in 2007.