Topeka, KS— Pamela Munoz, a kindergarten teacher at McCarter Elementary School, Topeka Unified School District 501, and Jaimie Swindler, a special education teacher at Ottawa Senior High School, Ottawa USD 290, were named Region 2 finalists for the 2023 Kansas Teacher of the Year award during a virtual ceremony Sunday, March 27.


This award recognizes excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state.


As finalists for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction, Munoz and Swindler each will receive a $2,000 cash award from Security Benefit, the major corporate partner for the Kansas Teacher of the Year program. In addition, they are each now eligible to be named Kansas Teacher of the Year, which will be announced during a ceremony Saturday, Sept. 24, in Wichita.


Munoz and Swindler were among six Teacher of the Year semifinalists from Region 2, which covers the second U.S. congressional district.


Other semifinalists were Marcie Warner, a second-grade teacher at Pauline Central Primary School, Auburn-Washburn USD 437; Jeanette Weien, a second-grade teacher at Sunflower Elementary School, Ottawa USD 290; Barbara Atkins, an art teacher at Robinson Middle School, Topeka USD 501; and Misty Pratt, an English teacher at Paola Middle School, Paola USD 368.


Each of the semifinalists will receive a red marble apple with a wooden base, compliments of The Master Teacher in Manhattan.


This year, 109 educators across the state were nominated for the Kansas Teacher of the Year distinction.


Nominations are made in each of four regions in the state. The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), sponsor of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program, appoints regional selection panels comprised of teachers, education administrators and higher education representatives to select semifinalists and finalists from each region.


Each panel selects six semifinalists — three elementary teachers and three secondary teachers. From those semifinalists, the panel in each region then selects one elementary finalist and one secondary finalist. The Kansas Teacher of the Year is selected from among the state’s eight regional finalists.


The mission of the Kansas Teacher of the Year program is to build and utilize a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the improvement of schools, student performance and the teaching profession.


The Kansas Teacher of the Year team, comprised of the Teacher of the Year and state finalists, serves as an ambassador for education in Kansas, making public appearances across the state promoting education and the teaching profession.


The individual selected as the Kansas Teacher of the Year is eligible for national distinction as National Teacher of the Year.


The National Teacher of the Year program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the Voya Foundation.