Shawnee Mission Honors Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominees

Dr. Fulton, superintendent shakes hands with a KTOY teacher.
Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District formally honored teachers from across the district for their outstanding contributions this week. These educators were nominated for Kansas Teacher of the Year award by their school communities.

Honorees were welcomed to a reception, followed by a recognition ceremony, where each honoree was presented with a certificate. Event organizers, Brandi Leggett and Mindy Messmer, read compliments about each candidate written by the individuals who had nominated them to be honored. Numerous stories were shared about teachers who went above and beyond to help their students succeed.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Fulton wished all of the honorees the best conclusion of the school year and shared his appreciation to all of the educators for their service to children in the school district.

“You deserve all of the recognition in the world,” Fulton said. “Thank you for all you do.”  

The district’s Kansas Teacher of the year secondary nominee, Natalie Johnson-Berry, an English Language Arts teacher at Shawnee Mission North, and primary Melissa Molteni, a second-grade teacher at Corinth Elementary, also spoke at the event. They spoke about their experience as teachers and the honor of having been selected to represent the district in the Kansas Teacher of the Year program.

Each school community in the district was provided the opportunity to nominate a teacher to be recognized. Here are the honorees:

Hocker Grove – Kim Balsinger

Indian Hills – Rachel Basden

Indian Woods – DJ Hilding

Trailridge – Jessica Wilhelm

Westridge – Kim Lipford

Shawnee Mission East – Jennifer Davis

Shawnee Mission North – Natalie Johnson-Berry

Shawnee Mission Northwest – Tanner Ybarra

Shawnee Mission South – Andrea Dale

Shawnee Mission West – Taylor Smith

Center for Academic Achievement – Connie Gandy


ApacheIS – Nicole Bennett

Bluejacket-Flint – Katie Heier

Briarwood – Susan Cunningham

Broken Arrow – Jeffery Psota

Brookridge - Kristy Nerstheimer

Comanche – Kathleen Rush

Corinth – Melissa Molteni

Highlands – Michelle Stopperan

Lenexa Hills – Alex Helpingstine

Merriam Park – Rebecca Dallman

Mill Creek – Meredith Morris

Nieman – Michael Soto

Oak Park-Carpenter – Linda LaPietra

Overland Park – Catherine Handy

Prairie – Allison Dorau

Rhein Benninghoven – Patricia Marcus

Rising Star – Brian Quick

Roesland – Michelle Tapko

Rosehill – Kelsey Phillips

Rushton – Jenna Hanson

Santa Fe Trail – Laura Herrick

Shawanoe – Laura Stoafer

Sunflower – Liz McClain

Tomahawk – John Kashka

Trailwood – Tracy Warren

Westwood View – Angela Harris


A special recognition was also presented in memory of the late Larry Martin who taught at Belinder Elementary School.

Dr. Fulton, superintendent shakes hands with a KTOY teacher.
Dr. Dennis presents an award to a KTOY honoree.
A KTOY honoree with Dr. Fulton
A KTOY honoree with Dr. Fulton
People interact at the KTOY reception.
People interact at KTOY reception.
Melissa Molteni, KTOY nominee speaks at KTOY recognition ceremony.
Natalie Johnson-Berry speaks at the KTOY banquet.