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Horizon Award winnerJenny Prater, math teacher at Schlagle High School, has been named a 2014 Kansas Horizon Award recipient. (Photo from Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools)
Horizon Award winner
Jenny Prater, math teacher at Schlagle High School, has been named a 2014 Kansas Horizon Award recipient.
The award, administered by the Kansas State Department of Education, recognizes exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding. Prater is one of only 32 teachers from across the state to receive the recognition.
“This means she is one of the best teachers in the state,” said Commissioner of Education Diane DeBacker. “She has the ability to connect with students and the ability to make math come alive. She is an outstanding teacher.”
Prater is challenged by students who struggle with math. In fact, she asked to teach those students when she came on staff.
She takes an unconventional approach to teaching and it has resulted in engaging students from the beginning of the class period to the end. She uses educational games that she developed to engage them including “Mrs. P Says” (her version of Simon Says) and a math-specific version of “Catch Phrase,” plus songs and jingles to help students retain information.
Where appropriate she will physically dress the part to illustrate a math point. For example, at Halloween, she came dressed as a graphing calculator.
Schlagle Principal Maritza Paul said students see her as a “math goddess.”
“Never have I seen a first-year teacher so unafraid to grow and connect herself to the school community,” Paul said.
Prater works with the Literacy Leadership Team, leads the celebration of First Fridays for 9th grade achievement and models instruction in the Math Professional Learning Community.
One student said of her, “She is a role model for us. She is very special.”
Prater and other Horizon Award winners will be recognized individually during a luncheon during the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network conference in Topeka on Feb. 21. She also has been invited to participate as special guest in the two-day KEEN conference, which will take place Feb. 20-21.
- Story from Tammy Dodderidge, Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools communications manager