The Shawnee Mission School District is home to some of the best new educators in the state. In a surprise announcement, two of these beginning educators learned they are Horizon Award nominees. The Horizon Award recognizes first-year Kansas teachers “who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding.”
This year’s Shawnee Mission honorees are Kira Stahly, a third-grade teacher at Merriam Park Elementary and Kristen Carillo, a special education teacher at Shawnee Mission West High School.
Principal Amy Simeonov shared that the overwhelming theme she hears from Stahly’s students is how she works to make learning fun. In Stahly’s classroom, students are often found learning in teams. She also works diligently to make sure every student’s voice is heard.
“They love that about her,” Simeonov said. “Students notice this.”
Prior to her first year of teaching, Stahly was a student-teacher at Merriam Park. Even at that time she was willing to go out of her comfort zone, incorporate advice from cooperating teachers, and demonstrated an excellent ability to maximize instructional minutes.
“Her students are always ready to go and ready for instruction,” Simeonov added.
Stahly also set a wonderful example for students as she spoke in an all-school assembly about her diabetic alert dog, Roxy, Simeonov added. Through Stahly’s teaching, students throughout the school learned about the important role Roxy plays in keeping Stahly safe and healthy as she teaches.
“She has been by my side through it all,” Stahly said about Roxy. “The students are great leaders and are always there to make sure Roxy is also safe and working.”
Kristen Carillo, a special education teacher at Shawnee Mission West, is Shawnee Mission’s Kansas Horizon Award secondary-level nominee. Even though she is new to her role, her abilities are in line with what is usually found in a veteran teacher, Principal Steve Loe shared.
When Carillo works with students, she strikes a balance of helping students when they need it and also having high expectations. She has a strong rapport with students and is very dedicated to helping students obtain resources they need to succeed.
“They see her as an ally,” Steve Loe, principal, shared.
Kansas will eventually select four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers representing each congressional district in the state. Each district is able to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher to be considered for the recognition.