Distinguished Teachers 2012
Stephanie Peck has been a devoted first grade teacher at Maranatha Academy for 20 years. Her dedication has impacted hundreds of children’s lives and she is widely known as a loving, patient and kind teacher who spends extra time assisting students.
Mrs. Peck is an expert at teaching first graders how to write and to enjoy it, to learn math through hands-on centers and to remember spelling rules by singing catchy rhymes.
Laura Burch, Maranatha Lower School Principal, said that Mrs. Beck’s creativity includes celebrating Thanksgiving with a Colonial Days festival and also creating a Nativity program that travels to nursing homes. “Mrs. Peck is always quick with an encouraging word or an act of kindness. She imparts this joy daily into the lives of her students. The parents and school staff are also the recipients of that joy and care.”
Mrs. Peck received her B.S. in elementary education and early childhood education from Evangel University (Springfield, Missouri) in 1989.
Diocese of Dodge City
Amanda Cook has the distinction being a dedicated third and fourth grade teacher at St. John’s Catholic School in Hanover since 1999, and she is also an alumnus of St. John’s. She currently teaches third grade science and religion, serves as an Eucharistic minister at school masses and has stepped in as a sports coach when needed.
Mrs. Cook is the Professional Development Council Chair, assists with Power School technology and wrote a grant that earned a Smart Board for St. John’s. Tim Rundle, St. John’s Principal, said, “She is the epitome of a person who comes home to give back to the community she grew up in. She is always willing to help out with whatever is needed within the school and the community and practices her faith each day in the way she lives her life.”
In 1999 Mrs. Cook attained her B.S. in education from Benedictine College. She also earned an associate degree from Southeast Community College in 1997.
Martha Leaf is an outstanding veteran teacher of 20 years, with the past 10 years teaching at Wichita Collegiate School. Ms. Leaf recently moved to the middle school where she is teaching fifth grade American History. Previously, she had been a team leader and second grade teacher – where she developed a curriculum unit in American History. In her new position, Mrs. Leaf is already engaging her students as they create quiz shows and reenact historical scenes.
Ms. Leaf has been a presenter at national conferences, but according to Ann Rai, Head of Middle School, her nurturing presence with students is even more impressive. “Martha Leaf is well loved by students and parents, and is helping to revise our 5th Grade American History Curriculum,” she said. “When you enter her classroom, you see students sitting on the edge of their seats, they are so engaged.”
Ms. Leaf received her Bachelor of Science degree from Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, Indiana) in 1985.
Rayanne Gartner has lovingly served as preschool director and teacher at Zion Lutheran School in Independence since 2004. She was also a teacher’s aide at the school, 1997-2004. Her commitment to each student and their foundational learning, the scripture-based curriculum that she has written that incorporates home and school, and her exceptional classroom management have led parents to continually refer to Mrs. Gartner as “the best preschool director and teacher in Independence.”
Mrs. Gartner’s teaching philosophy reflects her commitment to nurturing the faith and the behavioral and academic skills needed for success in life – and in kindergarten. “Mrs. Gartner has a thorough understanding of early childhood education and the importance of play,” Dawn Oldenettel, Principal, Zion Lutheran, said. “She structures her classroom schedule to refl ect this philosophy and provides many enriching opportunities as well as providing time for her students to experiment and learn by doing.”
Mrs. Gartner received her bachelor’s degree in education in 1986 from Pittsburg State University.
Diocese of Wichita
Chris Van Sickel is the chairman of the Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School mathematics department and has been instructing students there since 1990. He was the first teacher in the Diocese of Wichita to teach both Calculus 2 and 3. Mr. Van Sickel has taught in public and Catholic schools in Topeka and Kansas City and is in his 33rd year of teaching secondary math.
“While Chris obviously is a skilled mathematician, he is also a patient teacher who is always available to his students and finds different strategies to help them succeed,” said David Kehres, Principal, Kapaun Mt. Carmel. “The improvement required in mathematics under No Child Left Behind from year to year is daunting, but under Chris’s leadership, KMC has met the state Standard of Excellence every year.”
Mr. Van Sickel earned a B.S. in mathematics in 1977 from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in mathematics from Wichita State University in 1993.