Brandi Rayl, sixth grade teacher at Faris Elementary School, is one of the top new teachers in Kansas for 2012-13.
Rayl received a telephone call Friday afternoon from Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker informing her she was a winner of the Kansas Horizon Award.
The Horizon Award program, currently in its 11th year, allows all school districts in the state an opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the award. To be eligible for a Horizon Award, teachers must have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding. The Horizon Award 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.
Rayl is the fourth USD 308 teacher in four years to receive the honor. Jesse Ediger, third grade teacher at Graber Elementary School, received the award in 2009-10. Angela McDonald, originally at McCandless Elementary School and now third grade teacher at Faris, received the award in 2006-07. Jenny Mencl, kindergarten teacher at Faris, received the award in 2007-08.
Denise Neighbors, Faris principal, said that Rayl is a fantastic educator. Neighbors also hired Jenny Mencl when she received the award.
“When interviewing teachers for a position, we always try to find a candidate who displays a ‘with-it-ness’ characteristic of understanding the art of teaching,” Neighbors said. “Both Jenny and Brandi have had challenging first year experiences. They handled every experience with professionalism and never lost their smiles. They love what they do and that love for teaching and working with students is evident every day.”
A Hutchinson native, Rayl had earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with minors in marketing and management. Realizing her true passion for education, Rayl returned to Wichita State University to earn degree in elementary education. She was graduated with magna cum laude honors in December 2010.
Dr. Shelly Kiblinger, USD 308 superintendent, said the district is stronger for having excellent young educators.
“It is exciting for our district to have one of our new teachers recognized for this honor,” Dr. Kiblinger said. “I hope that her work and success will be an inspiration to others to enter the teaching profession — perhaps even some of the students she has in class with her right now. You never know where the influence of a great teacher will lead.”
As a recipient of the Kansas Horizon Award, Rayl will be invited to join the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN), a network of educators from around the state who have been formally recognized for exemplary performance. Members of KEEN have an opportunity to network with other outstanding educators and participate in a number of professional development programs throughout the year.