SMSD Names State Horizon Nominees

SMSD Names State Horizon Nominees
Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District is proud to recognize some of the best new educators in the state.

Recently, two Shawnee Mission teachers learned they are nominees for the state Horizon Award, an honor that recognizes exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding. The following teachers will represent the SMSD in the annual state Horizon Award Program:

Abby Cater, a fourth grade teacher at Apache IS, is the district’s Kansas Horizon Award nominee at the elementary level. Principal Britt Pumphrey said Cater is on her way to becoming an expert teacher.

“She is a great teammate, flexible, incredibly student-centered,” Pumphrey shared. “In her first year of teaching she developed a strong classroom community that both promoted learning and belonging for all students.”

Susan Specht, a health and physical education teacher at Shawnee Mission Northwest, is the district’s Kansas Horizon Award nominee at the secondary level.

Specht values each individual student in her class and teaches with great love in her heart because teaching is her calling, principal Lisa Gruman stated.

“She creates a safe space for each of her students to thrive and express the very best of themselves,” Gruman added. “Ms. Specht provides her students choice and voice in their learning, a strategy that also allows her to assess their emotional wellbeing as well as their academic skills. She builds self-confidence and resilience in her learners and the athletes she coaches. She models hard work, integrity, and determination integral to life’s success.”

Each district is able to nominate one elementary and one secondary educator for this recognition. The Kansas State Department of Education will appoint regional selection committees responsible for reviewing the nomination forms and selecting up to four elementary classroom teachers and four secondary classroom teachers per region for a possible total of 32 teachers.

Dr. Michael Schumacher, interim associate superintendent of human resources, congratulated both honorees.

“I want to thank you for being a part of the SMSD and more importantly for impacting the students with whom you work,” he noted.