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Paola USD 368



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Congratulations to both of you!!


The Kansas Horizon Award program identifies and recognizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. The mission of the program is to recognize exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding.

Sonny Bourne

Horizon Award Nominee and Recipient, Sonny Bourne 

Sonny Bourne, Horizon Award Nominee and Award Recipient

At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be an educator. In fact, during my Kindergarten graduation, I proudly announced into the mic “I want to be a teacher when I grow up.” I could say this proudly because I come from a family full of educators. Both my parents were in education during my K-12 career. I saw the impact they had on their students' lives. Not only did I have family influence, but I was also taught by some incredible educators throughout my educational career. I saw how they cared for their students and worked hard day in and out.

After graduating from Pittsburg State University in December, I taught a semester at Independence Middle School in Independent Kansas. Education was changed forever during my first semester of teaching. I leaned into providing technical assistance to my colleagues and integrated engaging technology activities into my teaching. However, once I reached Paola Middle School, I officially felt like a first-year teacher. My first year of teaching might have been different from many other veteran teachers because of the pandemic, but I had many of the same experiences. I created relationships with my student, celebrated their successes, and learned from my failures. Paola Middle School has been a great place to start my teaching career. It has given me the support and opportunity to continue to grow as an educator. I am excited to see what the future holds in my educational career.

As recipients of the Kansas Horizon Award, these educators are 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 several professional development programs throughout the year.               




Ivy Poetter, Horizon Award Nominee

I graduated from Paola High School in 2004, and have the privilege to teach in the same district. After subbing in a variety of classrooms for 6 years, I knew my calling was in education. When I obtained my education degree from Fort Hays State University, I was blessed to have received a 5th grade teaching position at Sunflower Elementary. I have a passion for teaching students with exceptionalities and STEM education. Paola is where my heart is. Teaching is one way I can give back to the community that I love.