HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Hutchinson USD 308 announced its year-end honors for three employees.
Robin Getting, secretary at Graber Elementary School, has been named Classified Employee of the Year. Laura Benscheidt, health sciences teacher at the Hutchinson Career and Technical Education Academy, and Angela Allen, Reno County Head Start teacher, have been nominated as the district’s entries in the Kansas National Teacher of the Year competition.
The Davis Foundation will formally announce finalists and winners at the district’s back-to-school convocation in August.
Classified Employee of the Year
For Getting, family and families play a major role in her life.
As a mom, her children attended Hutchinson Public Schools and Graber. Now she finds that she’s serving some of the same individuals as parents she served when they were students at Graber. She started at Graber in August of 1998. The job of school secretary has changed during her 21-year career at Graber. While she still greets visitors and takes attendance calls, Getting and other secretaries are called to do more today.
“I enjoy my visits with parents,” she said. “So many, though, are struggling. A lot of my job becomes parental support, encouraging parents to ‘Keep going. Keep going.’ Sometimes I get calls from parents who just want to talk.” She and her husband, Gary, have been active in the community as long as they have lived here. When their four children were in Hutchinson Public Schools, they attended many sporting and music events their children were involved in.
Now that their children are grown and have careers of their own, the Gettings continue to attend USD 308 activities to watch the next generation of Salthawks. Even though the current school year is winding down, Getting will not have an extended break. She will be back in the office all summer for Stay to Play at Graber, the Hutchinson Recreation Commission’s summer program for students who have finished kindergarten through sixth grade. The program begins May 28 and ends July 26.
This is the second time Getting has won the Classified Employee of the Year honor, first winning it in 2008.
Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominee
HCTEA Health Sciences Teacher
When Laura Benscheidt applied for a job at the Hutchinson Career and Technical Education Academy, her program didn’t yet exist in the spring of 2009. Coming from the private sector, Benscheidt was the new health sciences teacher at HCTEA. Since that time, many of her students have gone on to health careers, including students who are able to work as CNAs and CMAs as they pursue their education in health or other areas.
Benscheidt is active in numerous professional organizations related to career and technical education and to health sciences. She is a member of the Association for Career and Technical Education, the Kansas New and Related Services, HOSA and is a SkillsUSA advisor.
During her tenure, Benscheidt has been involved in efforts to bring diversity to career education. She was asked to participate in a pilot project for the National Consortium for Health Sciences.
“I implemented cultural diversity in healthcare curriculum into my classroom and provided feedback to the National Consortium as well as presented my program at the national conference,” Benscheidt wrote in her nomination application. “This leadership has not only gained professional development for myself but has been an outstanding activity for my students and has gained HCTEA some recognition at KSDE (Kansas Department of Education) for participating in this pilot program.”
Benscheidt takes a one-on-one approach in working with her students. “The biggest strategy I use is to connect with kids,” she wrote. “In order to teach secondary, you need to get to know them as people and connect with them. I strive to learn their names by the first week of class and learn something about them personally that I can use to connect with them.”
Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominee
Reno County Head Start Teacher
A colleague of Angela Allen described the educator as a calming power in her building.
“Angela brings a quiet force to our program,” the colleague wrote in nominating Allen for the honor. “Her calm and confident demeanor helps her students experience an emotional safe place, which is important for a lot of our littles. She models for her students a soothing method of expression, accountability, self-advocacy and, in turn, models it for us, her co-workers.”
During her career, Allen has brought innovation and relationships both to Wichita and Hutchinson schools. Relationships are important. “My greatest accomplishment in education is the relationships I have built with families over the course of my teaching career,” she wrote in her nomination application. “I became a presenter for the Families Together Training of Trainers program back in 2001-02. I spoke with several attendees about how I established a relationship with my families, how I involve my families from the first day of meeting them, how I am not afraid to get personal with families so that they can judge my sincerity and decide what kind of relationship they want.”
Allen has been involved in a wide range of leadership activities at several age levels from pre-kindergarten through elementary school. She has also served as an on-site technology specialist in her past district.