Distinguished Teachers 2016

2016 KAIRS Distinguished Teachers

From Left: Robin Kraft, Wichita Collegiate School – Independent Schools; Donna Maus, St. Mary’s Colgan Catholic High School, Pittsburg – Diocese of Wichita; Cindy Roths, Ness-City Sacred Heart School – Diocese of Dodge City; Sandra Nelson, Hope Lutheran School, Shawnee – Lutheran Schools.


Diocese of Dodge City  

Cindy Roths is a much-loved music teacher at Ness-City Sacred Heart School. Beginning in 2004 shehas taught preschool through eighth-grade music as well as fifth- and sixth-grade band, recorders and religion classes. Mrs. Roth’s choirs, instrumentalists and vocalists consistently receive excellent ratings at Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) festivals, due in part to her commitment to having each student well prepared. In 2013 she was selected as the KMEA Outstanding Middle School teacher.

She is also well known throughout the community and her church for the outstanding Christmas and Spring musicals, which emphasize the love of Jesus and Catholic faith – and where each student has an active part.

“Cindy is invaluable to Sacred Heart School and Church. She does so many things for our school that they are hard to describe,” said Debbie Hagans, principal, Ness City-Sacred Heart School. “Her bubbly and positive personality creates enthusiasm in her classes and musical performances.”

Mrs. Roths teaching career in music began in 1981 after she received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Music that same year from Fort Hays State University.

Independent Schools  

Robin Kraft is an innovative preschool teacher at Wichita Collegiate School who has the unique ability to see each child’s gifts and potential and strives to “reach for experiences that will help me touch children’s lives.” Her classroom is a place of beauty, is well organized, child-centered and fun.

Mrs. Kraft not only inspires her own students, but also has been integral in implementing new initiatives at Collegiate. These have included the “CompuKids” computer program for 5-10 year-olds, a Spanish curriculum for 3-6 year-olds and a nature-based outdoor learning environment and playground. She is also a mentor to new teachers.

“Robin makes our school better because she has a love for teaching and an even greater lover for children,” explained Becky O’Hearn, head of Early Childhood, Wichita Collegiate School. “Her talents as an early childhood educator are worthy to be emulated. If you put the best qualities of a teacher into one person it would be Robin Kraft.”

Mrs. Kraft earned her B.S. in Elementary Education in 1976 and her M.S. in Gifted Education in 1979, both from Kansas State University.

Lutheran Schools  

Sandra Nelson’s passion for teaching middle school language arts, social studies, history and drama at Hope Lutheran School in Shawnee is remarkable. Working in several grade levels and positions at her school since 1991, Mrs. Nelson creates rich experiences for her seventh- and eighth-grade students.

Thinking beyond traditional assignments, her curriculum includes the students making original film documentaries, taking part in living history and appearing before an audience as that person, participating in a Geography Fair and presenting an annual drama production that includes a dinner theater.

“Mrs. Nelson deeply cares for each student in her classroom and shares the love of God with them daily. She takes the time to get to know her students’ strengths and encourages them to meet their potential,” said Nancy Jankowski, principal, Hope Lutheran School. “She is an extraordinary teacher and we are blessed to have her at Hope.”

Mrs. Nelson received a B.S. (1972) from Southern Illinois University and an M.S. (1977) from Kansas State University. In 1992 she received a Lutheran Teaching Certificate from Concordia University (Seward, NE), and an M.S. in Education from Walden University (Baltimore, MD, 2006).

Diocese of Wichita  

Donna Maus is an outstanding biology, anatomy and physiology teacher at St. Mary’s Colgan Catholic High School in Pittsburg, and is also an alumna. Since 1984, Mrs. Maus has consistently designed her high-level curriculum by carefully studying science standards and utilizing a wide range of resources. She provides her students a variety of experiences including creative labs and outdoor studies.

In addition, Mrs. Maus lives out her faith by example. During the seasons of Advent and Lent, she invites members of the St. Mary’s Colgan community to attend a fasting lunch in her classroom, where attendees pay for lunch and are served bread and water. The profits are given to the poor.

“Donna sees science as an integral component of a person’s overall intellectual and personal development,” said Tom Compton, principal, St. Mary’s Colgan. “The humility, gentleness and kindness she displays when working with students of all calibers is also an example of her religious values.”

Mrs. Maus began her teaching career in 1986. She received her B.S. in Biology (1984) and her M.S. (1990) from Pittsburg State University, where she is currently an adjunct faculty member.