- Unified School District 232
Horizon Award and Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominees
May 17, 2023 - The district recognized four educators for their exemplary teaching in two separate programs sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education. Taylar Powers, a second grade teacher at Starside Elementary, and Kayla South, who teaches sixth grade math at Mill Creek Middle School were chosen as the 2024 Horizon Award nominees, elementary and secondary respectively, for USD 232. Dandra Arter, the Media Specialist at Clear Creek Elementary, and Drew Proctor, who teaches computer graphics at De Soto High School along with animation and game design courses at Cedar Trails Exploration Center, are the USD 232 elementary and secondary district nominees for the Kansas Teacher of the year. Both Arter and Proctor will go on to represent the district in the 2025 Kansas Teacher of the Year program.
Kansas Horizon Award
The Horizon Award is a program developed by the Kansas State Department of Education that honors and recognizes exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding. The program is a regional competition with four regions corresponding to the state’s U.S. Congressional districts. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers may be selected for the award from each region. Taylar Powers and Kayla South will find out during the 2023-24 school year if either will be selected as a 2024 Horizon Award winner. For more information about the Kansas Horizon Award, click here.
(Left image) Taylar Powers just completed her first year as a teacher for our district after earning her Bachelor of Science in Education from Pittsburg State University, majoring in Elementary Education. In the photo (from left) Exec. Director of Elementary Personnel Carrie Handy, Starside Elementary Principal Jan Hicks, Taylar Powers, USD 232 Superintendent Frank Harwood, Exec. Director of Secondary Personnel Brain Schwanz and Asst. Superintendent Alvie Cater.
(Right image) Kayla South was hired as sixth grade math teacher for Mill Creek Middle School for her first year of teaching for the 2022-23 school year. Kayla received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing in 2004. She went on to receive two Masters Degrees: the first in 2007 from MNU in Business Administration and the second in 2022 from Ottawa University in Elementary Education with an emphasis on Special Education. Kayla, pictured center, with (from left) MCMS Principal Andrew Legler, Exec. Director of Elementary Personnel Carrie Handy, USD 232 Superintendent Frank Harwood, and Exec. Director of Secondary Personnel Brain Schwanz.
Kansas Teacher of the Year Program
The Kansas Teacher of the Year Award recognizes the excellent education being offered by our teachers in both elementary and secondary classrooms. The mission of KTOY is to build and utilize a network of teachers who are leaders in the improvement of schools, student performance and the teaching profession. USD 232 is a strong participant in the Kansas Teacher of the Year program with 15 state finalists and 13 semi-finalists being represented in the program since 1998.
(Left image) Dandra Arter began her teaching career at Clear Creek Elementary in 2004 and will celebrate 19-years in education, all in USD 232, this coming August. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Educational Technology, both from Pittsburg State University. Dandra currently serves on the De Soto Teachers’ Association Leadership Team as Vice President and Membership Chair. In the photo (from left) Asst. Superintendent Alvie Cater, Exec. Director of Elementary Personnel Carrie Handy, CCE Principal Kelley Begley McCall, Dandra Arter, USD 232 Superintendent Frank Harwood, and Exec. Director of Secondary Personnel Brain Schwanz.
(Right image) Drew Proctor has taught digital technology courses for USD 232 since 2019 and has a total of eight-years in education. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2011 and Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Business in 2013, both from Kansas State University. After receiving his SPED Endorsement from Emporia State, Drew taught Special Education for grades 9-12 at USD 475 in Geary County, Kansas for two years before becoming an Instructional Technology Teacher at the same district in 2016. In the photo, Drew Proctor (third from left) is flanked by (from left) Asst. Superintendent Alvie Cater, DHS Principal Sam Ruff, Superintendent Frank Harwood, Exec. Director of Secondary Personnel Brain Schwanz, and Exec. Director of Elementary Personnel Carrie Handy.