Wilroads Gardens Principal Erica Teran calls her nomination as Kansas Master Teacher an honor and sees it as confirmation that others recognize her attempt at being the best at what she’s doing.

Teran was notified of the nomination at a recent staff in-service day.

"I had no idea this announcement was going to be made or that it would involve me," she said. "It was a beautiful surprise!"

Teran graduated from Dodge City High School and has been employed with the district since 2004.

In 2011, she became an instructional coach and accepted the position as principal/instructional coach at Wilroads Gardens in August.

"I always knew I wanted to work with kids," she said. "I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. Watching students grow and feel successful gives me great joy."

Parental involvement has always been important to Teran.

"I saw the struggles and challenges my own parents had to face in regards to communicating with schools," she said. "Language played a big role in the communication gap. I strongly believe that education can open may doors that we may not even know exist."

Since Wilroads Gardens is a smaller school, Teran splits her duties as principal with those of an instructional coach.

"Finding and maintaining balance in all areas is a challenge," she said. "Some of the hardest moments are when things are out of your control and trusting that all parties involved are doing the best they can stepping in when this is not the case."

Teran said one of the most rewarding parts of her job is seeing and taking part in the growth in staff, students, and families, as well as being able to inspire others to reach for their own goals and discover their strengths.

"My proudest moments as an educator have been helping students, staff and parents in any way I can and seeing their faces light up when things start to fall into place," she said. "Realizing that students, staff and families know I genuinely care is priceless."

Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Tami Knedler calls Teran a strong advocate for students, families and educators.

"She is a true reflection of who we want serving our community," she said.

Teran and her husband, Jesus, have two children.

"When I was young, we moved many times," she said. "Growing up, education was very important to my parents; they wanted us to have an education so that we could experience the possibilities and opportunities they were not able to have."