Recent SM South Graduate Receives Superintendent of the Year Scholarship

Libby Dugan, recent SM South grad, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard, and Scholarship Recipient Isela Gatewood
Shawnee Mission School District

In one of her final actions as Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent, Dr. Michelle Hubbard presented a surprise scholarship to a future Shawnee Mission School District teacher.

Isela Gatewood, a 2024 graduate, was presented with a $4,000 scholarship, funded by Security Benefit as part of the Kansas Superintendent of the Year program. The scholarship was intended for a 2024 graduate who is passionate about becoming a public school teacher, with an intent to come back and teach in the SMSD. Dr. Hubbard presented the honor to Gatewood, who was joined by her friend Libby Dugan, who helped inspire her journey to becoming a teacher.

“I  am thrilled that this scholarship is going to help those who will nurture our next generation of learners,” Dr. Hubbard expressed. “We have so many amazing people who are preparing to become educators in the future. But one scholarship applicant in particular stood out above the crowd.”

Gatewood shared a personal story in her application, telling about Dugan, who became her best friend when they were five years old. Gatewood explained how when she reached about eight years old, she began to learn and understand her best friend, Dugan, had special needs. It was then she began to hear other students define Dugan by her disability.

Gatewood wrote: “Even at eight, I never considered her separate from our classmates because to me she was just Libby.” This experience inspired Gatewood to pursue more opportunities to learn how to help students with special needs.

Gatewood became a cadet teacher and she enrolled in a Personal Life Skills class. In her junior year, she chose to spend her time providing after-school care for a student with special needs. Throughout the years, she learned how to create lesson plans, teach life skills, facilitate special sports opportunities, and advocate for students with special needs. Gatewood also remained friends with Dugan, from their time at Trailwood to their time at Shawnee Mission South, where they graduated together in May.

Gatewood also wrote how inspired she is by her parents, who are teachers. Her dad, Travis Gatewood, teaches at Shawnee Mission South, and her mom teaches gymnastics in our community. She concluded her essay by saying:

“As a special education teacher, I will build strong relationships with each student and their family. I will make students feel valued and know that they can rely on me. I will ensure that my students get every resource and opportunity they need to be successful in their lives. And I will advocate to all members of the community the value of belonging and the need for inclusiveness.

Just like my dad who has been part of SMSD since kindergarten, I started in kindergarten at Trailwood Elementary. And just like him, I see a future of returning to our district to make the same kind of positive impacts and lifelong connections. I want to give back to the community that has given me so much. Thank you for this opportunity.”

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard was announced as Kansas Superintendent of the Year in 2023.


Libby Dugan, recent SM South grad, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard, and Scholarship Recipient Isela Gatewood