Excellence in the classroom
Maxon receives teacher of year
Cathy Maxon's nomination for teacher of the year described her as being a dedicated teacher, a mentor and a leader.
Wal-Mart must have agreed because it selected Maxon, a fourth-grade teacher at Baldwin Elementary School, as its 2003 teacher of the year.
The Ottawa Wal-Mart distribution center surprised Maxon Thursday in front of the students, faculty and her family with a certificate and a $1,000 check for the school when they recognized her as teacher of the year.
"Everybody wants to be recognized. But it is nice to know there's a student in my room that feels good enough about school to go home and tell their mom or dad," she said. "That is the best feeling."
She was nominated for the honor by a Wal-Mart distribution center associate, who remains anonymous. Steve Harris, the director of human resources at the Ottawa distribution center, said the teachers Wal-Mart associates nominate are ones that have gone above and beyond normal expectations in the classroom and school.
Maxon's nomination read "Mrs. Maxon is a highly dedicated teacher that gives completely of herself to her students. She is the chair on several different school committees and is an active member of the PTO and school site council. She is considered a leader among her fellow teachers. She has been an elementary school teacher for 17 years and has taught both special education and regular education with great success and has been a mentor to many new teachers."
She said she is honored by the recognition and the congratulations she has received.
"I've gotten the kindest e-mails from staff, Baker staff and parents in the community," she said.
Maxon said she's just been doing her job that she loves, and, in fact, has never wanted to do anything else.
"I remember being in first grade and people asking me what I want to do. 'I want to be a teacher,'" she said. "It's what I've always wanted to do."
She began her career in education 24 years ago as a math paraprofessional in Lawrence. After a year, she got a classroom teaching position in Linwood, teaching first, fourth and fifth grades during her seven years in that district.
While at Linwood, she continued her master's degree in special education. After receiving her degree, Maxon began working with the special education coop and served as an interrelated teacher at BES, Marion Springs Elementary School and Vinland Elementary School.
"The three schools were very different," she said. "It was always interesting and a lot of fun."
After seven years with the coop, Maxon accepted a fourth-grade teaching position at BES, where she has remained.
"I always liked fourth grade," she said. "They can read and most importantly, they understand my weird sense of humor."
There are many moments throughout her career she said she considers to be some of her proudest, including one just this year.
"Just how hard I saw the fourth graders work on the Kansas Math Assessments this year," she said. "And there have been many others."
While there have been some challenges, she said she has never regretted becoming a teacher.
"No two days are ever alike," she said. "It's what I do. It's a respectable job."
The school, she said, has played a part in her love of teaching.
"Baldwin Elementary is a great school," she said. "The people, the entire staff, they're very caring, compassionate people."
Maxon said she can't believe she has been teaching for 24 years.
"I feel like I just started a couple of years ago," she said. "If I'm lucky, I'll be here another 10 years."