Andover Middle School Teacher Dyane Smokorowski receives Kansas Teacher of the Year award.
Dyane Smokorowski, an eighth grade advanced language arts teacher at Andover Middle School, USD 385, was named the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year during ceremonies in Wichita Saturday night. Commissioner of Education Dr. Diane DeBacker made the announcement before a gathering of more than 400 education officials, corporate leaders and state policy makers.“It is truly a pleasure to present this award to Dyane Smokorowski,” Commissioner DeBacker said. "When Dyane talks about teaching, her entire face lights up. She gets carried away with her enthusiasm for her profession and for her students, and it is impossible not be carried away with her. I am grateful to have teachers like Dyane in Kansas.”Smokorowski was named the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year from a field of eight finalists. Throughout the coming year all of the finalists will work as a team to advocate for education and teaching. Selected from a pool of 91 nominations, the 2013 finalists are: Colleen Mitchell, an English language arts teacher at Village Elementary School in Emporia USD 253; Sarah Berblinger, an intensive assistance teacher of reading and mathematics at Prairie Hills Middle School in the Buhler School District USD 313; Laura Moyers, a music teacher at Anthony Elementary School in Leavenworth USD 453; Sibyl “Sue” Commons, a mathematics teacher at Baxter Springs High School, Baxter Springs USD 508; Judy Domke, an interrelated resource teacher at Stanley Elementary School in the Blue Valley School District USD 229; Scott Keltner, a mathematics teacher at Eudora High School, Eudora USD 491; and Ramie Allison, a physical education teacher at Nelson Elementary School in Haysville USD 261.Smokorowski has been with the Andover School District for five years, serving first as an instructional technology coach and technology professional development instructor for the district, and as an eighth grade language arts teacher for the past four years. Dyane’s class also encompasses digital citizenship, helping students understand how to use the Internet safely and appropriately.In addition to her teaching duties, Smokorowski works with other teachers across Kansas and the nation to help them use technology in a manner that enhances instruction. She serves as an instructional technology trainer, providing professional development for the Andover School District, and throughout the state training PreK-12 teachers on 21st Century Skills, project based learning and technology tools. In addition, she is an Intel National Senior Trainer training other teachers around the nation in project based learning strategies with enhanced technology integration, and co-hosts monthly online professional development trainings focused on effective technology integration and 21st Century Skills for PreK-12 educators for the Intel Teach Live International Monthly Webinar series.In a letter of nomination, Smokorowski’s former principal, Brett White, describes Mrs. Smoke, as she’s known to her students, as “an outstanding teacher” who is “a model for other teachers to emulate.” White said Smokorowski has “special talents” that allow her to make an impact beyond her classroom to benefit the school and district.“She has a heart to teach and empower other educators along with her students,” White said. “She is extraordinary in every sense of the word.”As a teacher, Smokorowski said she believes in a project-based, student-centered classroom that helps students build skills in communication, planning, research and project implementation. She wants her students to develop a love for literature, communication and technology, but also to understand how to use that love and passion to advance their own future, as well as that of their community.“I want (my students) to understand how sharing a perspective through imagery, strong verbs and persuasive techniques can change opinions, so they communicate with authentic audiences such as CEOs of major companies, and speak publicly,” she said. “My desire for them to break down the classroom walls and discover that each of them has a voice and a perspective to make a positive impact is demonstrated in every project.”One such project developed as Smokorowski’s students were reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. While reading the novel, students were asked to research current events on piracy, which led to a discussion on digital piracy, plagiarism and copyright. The discussion led to a 10-week research project during which students arranged Skype calls with more than 16 different experts on intellectual property ranging from FBI cyber crime agents to the CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. Ultimately, the students launched a website they wrote and designed themselves that helps teens understand how to be ethically responsible with intellectual property.“Through this experience and others like it, I have successfully connected my small town Kansas students to classrooms on all seven continents and with more than 30 experts in areas ranging from the entertainment industry to the American Revolution,” Smokorowski said. “It has certainly been a joyous ride, and without question, I know these personal experiences have shaped my students to discover their own passion and dreams.”As Teacher of the Year, Smokorowski receives a $4,000 cash award from Security Benefit, a major sponsor of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program."As a leading provider of retirement savings and income vehicles for educators throughout Kansas and the nation, we offer our congratulations to Dyane Smokorowski on this prestigious accomplishment,” said Michael P. Kiley, Security Benefit Corporation Chief Executive Officer. “It often is said a good teacher is like a candle: it consumes itself to light the way for others. Our sponsorship of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program allows us to recognize the vital importance of the education profession, and to support the many teachers who were our candles, who touched our lives, helped us realize our dreams and encouraged us to burn bright."Smokorowski also receives a Lifelong Learning Scholarship from the Kansas Board of Regents, Washburn University, Baker University, Bethany College, Kansas WesleyanUniversity, MidAmerica Nazarene University, University of Saint Mary, Tabor College, and Webster University-Kansas City; and a Jostens Leader in Education ring.As the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year, Smokorowski will also receive an educational technology package valued at approximately $11,000 from SMART Technologies ULC of Canada. This year’s Teaching Excellence Award includes a SMART Board™ with projector or SMART Response PE (32 units), SMART Document Camera, class license for Notebook™ software, single license for SMART Response VETM software, school site license for SMART IdeasTM concept-mapping software, three single licenses for SMART Notebook Math ToolsTM, SMART BridgitTM conferencing software, and technology training.In addition, Smokorowski will receive The Hubbard Foundation Kansas Teacher of the Year Ambassadorship. The ambassadorship provides funds for travel and other necessary expenses incurred by the Kansas Teacher of the Year. Enterprise Rent-a-Car will provide the lease of a car and the Kansas Corn Commission will provide ethanol gas for Smokorowski to use while fulfilling her Teacher of the Year duties.All eight members of the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year team will receive a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, and a Teaching Excellence Award valued at $1,500 from SMART Technologies ULC that includes a one-year school site license for SMART IdeasTM concept mapping software or a one-year single license for SMART Response VETM software and technology training. The Kansas Teacher of the Year semi-finalists and finalists also receive a marble apple from The Master Teacher in Manhattan.The Teacher of the Year program has state and national competitions. The national program, sponsored by the ING Foundation and Target, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers, in partnership with the University of Phoenix Foundation and People to People Ambassador Programs. The Kansas program is sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education.