The USD 475 Board of Education presents the Shining Star Award to selected USD 475 staff members who provide exceptional service to or credit upon the school district. Staff members who were nominated were judged by a panel on their service to the school district, contribution to the betterment of their profession, community service, and how their actions impacted the overall perception of Geary County Schools.
David Wild, Chief Operations Officer at Mary E. Devin Center
Laura Thompson, Speech-Language Pathologist at Ware Elementary
Jacob McCallister, Third-Grade Teacher at Westwood Elementary
Chantay Caron, Special Education Teacher at Morris Hill Elementary
Jamie Williams, Eighth-Grade Math Teacher at Junction City Middle School
The USD 475 Board of Education presents the Tech Innovator Award to selected USD 475 staff members who show technology innovation in the classroom. Staff members who were nominated were judged by a panel on their ability to integrate technology in the classroom, how they show to be a cutting-edge trendsetter and innovator, how they use technology to regularly enhance teaching and learning, and how they share their technology use with their colleagues.
Shane Fairchild, Milford Elementary
Superintendent 3 R Award
The Superintendent’s Three R Award represents respect, responsibility, and positive relationships. Students who demonstrate these qualities are nominated by their building principal for the award.
Jaxon Buchanan, Eisenhower, Fifth Grade
Hazel Walker, Fort Riley, Fifth Grade
Sage Conner, Franklin, Fifth Grade
Alana Gaytan, Grandview, Fourth Grade
Emmalee Smith, Jefferson, Fifth Grade
Grady Oentrich, Lincoln, Fifth Grade
Skylar Chiodo, Milford, Fifth Grade
Natalie Franson, Morris Hill, Fifth Grade
Keyion Gayle, Seitz, Third Grade
Jayden Sullivan, Sheridan, Second Grade
Carli Collins, Spring Valley, Fifth Grade
Anya Smith, Ware, Fifth Grade
Julien Bonhomme, Washington, Fifth Grade
Ava Hammond, Westwood, Fifth Grade
Mia Willis, JCMS, Eighth Grade
Vera Romero, FRMS, Eighth Grade
Kansas Teacher of the Year
The Kansas Teacher of the Year program, sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education, identifies, recognizes, and utilizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. Freedom Brass was the district nominee for the 2020 Kansas Teacher of the Year Award Program.
Emporia State University established the Kansas Master Teacher awards in 1954. The awards are presented annually to teachers who have served the profession long and well and who also typify the good qualities of earnest and conscientious teachers. Bryan Scruggs, Academic Specialist at Seitz Elementary, was named the 2022 Emporia State University Master Teacher award winner.
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.
USD 475 has received 5 Horizon Awards since 2010 (as well as an additional 7 nominees).
Abigail Buser, Westwood Elementary School, was a 2019 winner of the Horizon Award for distinguished educators who have completed their first year of teaching.
Allie Ronnebaum, 6th grade Social Studies teacher at Fort Riley Middle School, and Chelsea Willems, kindergarten teacher at Ware Elementary, were winners of the 2016 Horizon Award for distinguished educators who have completed their first year of teaching.
National Board Certification
Clifford French, JCHS
Jean Johnson, FRMS
Anneliece Kowalik, JCMS
Michelle McDaniel, JCMS
Mary Jane Witt, Lincoln Elementary
Dorothy Colemen, Sheridan Elementary
Crystal Rankin, Sheridan Elementary
Spring Valley Elementary won the Enhanced Spotlight Recognition in 2019.
Reina Cruz, Junction City High School, received the Sanford Teacher Award along with $10,000 from the National University System.
Geary County Schools received the Pacesetter Award in 2018.
Fort Riley Middle School, Milford Elementary, and Ware Elementary received the Energy Conservation Leader Award in 2018.
USD 475 received the ALICE Organizational Certification and is the only school to achieve this three years in a row.
Heather Oentrich, Junction City Middle School, received the Principal Advocate Award at the Kansas Counseling Conference.
USD 475 currently has six schools who were designated National Blue Ribbon Schools (two of these schools have won this award twice).
Junction City High School Girls Track was named the Girls 6A State Track Champions.
Doug Sallee, Junction City High School, was named KS Scholastic Press Association’s Administrator of the Year in 2017.
Montika Allen-Atkinson, Westwood Elementary, was named the 2015-2016 VFW Teacher of the Year.
District publications have won 4 certificates of merit from the Kansas Association of School Boards in 2015.
Randall Zimmerman, Junction City High School Football Coach and Strength & Conditioning teacher, was named the 2015 Centennial League Coach of the Year and was also named as a head coach for the 2016 Shrine Bowl All-Star game.
Brandi Lundren, Junction City Middle School, was named the KASSP Assistant Principal of the Year in 2015.
In 2013, the Fort Riley Middle School was named the NAMSP School of the Year.
Since 2006, Geary County Schools has received 27 Governor’s Awards.
Geary County Schools has received 65 Challenge Awards from 2002 to present.