BESIC’s Kohrs named exemplary teacher
At their monthly assembly Friday, Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center faculty, students and staff recognized third-grade teacher April Kohrs for the award she received for being an exemplary first-year teacher.
Kohrs was one of 30 teachers to receive the 2006 Kansas Horizon Award for being an excellent first-year teacher for the 2004-2005 school year.
"I was a little surprised," Kohrs said. "It was very nice. Tom (Mundinger) did a great job of putting it together. It was nice to have everyone there. I am very grateful."
The news of the award came to BESIC in a letter on Dec. 22, the day after the school was out for winter break.
"We were thrilled," BESIC Principal Tom Mundinger said. "We found out the day after we left for Christmas break. We had all of Christmas break to be excited, but not have anyone here to share it with."
Supt. James White was pleased for Kohrs, because he had heard many positive things about her teaching.
"I was thrilled," White said. "It was good for everyone in our schools. As a first-year teacher, I heard great things from her staff and her students. We are very pleased."
Kohrs said she found out about the award a couple days before the assembly from co-workers.
"I found out a day or two before," Kohrs said. "When I came into school, the social worker stopped me and said congratulations. I didn't really realize she was talking to me, until she said congratulations on the award."
The award was supposed to be a surprise for Kohrs, but Mundinger was unable to keep it a secret to an area newspaper.
"I had decided we were going to surprise her at the assembly, because she didn't know about it," Mundinger said. "Then it came out in a little blurb in the Lawrence Journal-World. Enough people saw it and a couple told her about it before I was able to tell them don't say anything about it. So she knew about the award, but I don't think she knew we were going to play it up at the assembly."
Since Mundinger was sure Kohrs knew nothing about being recognized at the assembly, he and other staff members stayed quiet for two days.
"It was funny, because we all knew but we weren't saying anything to her about it," Mundinger said. "She knew about the award but nobody was saying anything to her about it. So there were a couple days in there where I am sure she was wondering whether somebody would say congratulations besides two people."
At the assembly, Kohrs was recognized with the letter and a warm reception from the school, White and several board of education members.
To finish the assembly, Kohrs had to make her way through the Intermediate Center Walk of Honor, which is reserved for special accomplishments and has only been done about five times, according to Mundinger.
The IC Walk of Honor involves the recognized person walking through a tunnel all the way around the gym. The students, staff, faculty and visitors hold hands over their heads make the tunnel.
Kohrs has loved her experience in Baldwin since she came here in 2004.
"I had an absolute great class," Kohrs said. "I had great students and a nice group of parents to work with. Everyone was very willing to help me. It is an amazing school with a great staff. It was been a dream first two years."
Mundinger said BESIC selected Kohrs as its nomination, because she fit the description of the award.
"We decided to nominate her as a building, because she truly was an exemplary first-year teacher," Mundinger said. "She is mature beyond her years."
"She just had a fantastic first year," Mundinger said. "The parents, kids and staff loved her. She has assumed leadership roles on various committees. She puts in an enormous amount of time, effort and energy. She was deserving. I have worked with a lot of first-year teachers and a lot of good ones, and she would rank up there."
Mundinger said jokingly, his only concern about nominating Kohrs was that she was a graduate of Kansas State University, since he is a fan of the University of Kansas.
Kohrs came to Baldwin before the 2004-2005 school year when her husband found a job in the Kansas City area. She saw the job opening at BESIC and applied.
Kohrs graduated from KSU in 2002 and then began working on her Master's Degree in counseling for a year, while being a teacher aide in an elementary classroom.