Lan T. Huynh, a third-grade teacher at Christa McAuliffe Academy (Wichita Unified School District 259), and Tim “T.J.” Warsnak, a social studies teacher at Halstead High School (Halstead-Bentley USD 440), were named Region 4 finalists for the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year award during a ceremony Saturday, Sept. 8, in Wichita. This award recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Huynh and Warsnak each received a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, the major corporate partner for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. In addition, they are each now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, which will be announced during ceremonies in Wichita on Nov. 17. Huynh and Warsnak were among six Teacher of the Year semifinalists from Region 4, which covers the fourth U.S. congressional district. Other semifinalists were Debbie A. Miller-Dealy, a special education teacher at Sunset Elementary School (Newton USD 373); Andrea L. Nietfeld, a fourth-grade teacher at Maize Elementary School (Maize USD 266); Gina L. Clark, a business and career preparation teacher at Garden Plain High School (Renwick USD 267); and Michael “Mike” S. McConnell, a welding technology teacher at Newton Senior High School (Newton USD 373). Each of the semifinalists received a red marble apple with a wooden base, compliments of The Master Teacher in Manhattan. This year, 114 educators across the state were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction. Nominations are made in each of four regions in the state. The Kansas State Department of Education, sponsor of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, appoints regional selection panels comprised of teachers, education administrators and higher education representatives to select semifinalists and finalists from each region. Each panel selects six semifinalists — three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers. From those semifinalists, the panel in each region then selects one elementary finalist and one secondary finalist. The Kansas Teacher of the Year is selected from among the state’s eight regional finalists. The mission of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program is to build and utilize a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the improvement of schools, student performance and the teaching profession. The Kansas Teacher of the Year team, comprised of the Teacher of the Year and state finalists, serve as ambassadors for education in Kansas, making public appearances across the state promoting education and the teaching profession. The individual selected as the Kansas Teacher of the Year is eligible for national distinction as National Teacher of the Year. The National Teacher of the Year program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the Voya Foundation.