A Leavenworth High School teacher has been named Teacher of the Year for this region of the state.
And Jeff Baxter is now one of eight finalists for the title of Kansas Teacher of the Year.
Baxter, who teaches languages arts, learned he had been chosen as the Region 2 Teacher of the Year for the secondary education level Sunday during an awards banquet in Topeka.
"It was humbling," he said.
Region 2 covers the state's 2nd congressional district, which includes all of Leavenworth County.
Last spring, Baxter was chosen to be the Leavenworth school district's secondary level representative in the Kansas State Department of Education's Teacher of the Year program. Ashley Baker, a kindergarten teacher at Henry Leavenworth Elementary School represented the district at the elementary level.
Baxter teaches advanced placement language and composition and junior-level honors English. He also serves as the chairman of the Communication Arts Department at Leavenworth High School.
"We are so excited for Mr. Baxter to be recognized at this level for his contributions to the teaching profession and his positive influence on the students of Leavenworth," Superintendent Kelly Crane said.
Crane called Baxter "an excellent ambassador for Leavenworth High School and our school district."
Leavenworth High School Principal Tom Barry said Baxter has high expectations for his students, but at the same time he's there to help and support them.
"He just does a tremendous job," Barry said.
Baxter is in his 25th year of teaching. He spent three years teaching at Immaculata High School before coming to Leavenworth High School.
As a teacher, Baxter said he loves seeing the "a-ha moments," when things click for students.
He said people don't get into the teaching profession to win awards.
"You get in it because you care about kids," he said.
During the awards banquet, Baxter was presented an award certificate, a proclamation signed by the governor and a red marble apple. He also was presented a check for $2,000 from Security Benefit, which sponsors the Kansas Teacher of the Year program.
Jenny M. Nash, a kindergarten teacher in Paola, was honored as the elementary level Teacher of the Year for Region 2, according to information from the Kansas Department of Education.
Baxter said KSDE will send a film crew to Leavenworth to tape an interview with him. He will make a five- to 10-minute presentation, which also will be filmed. The crew also will film him teaching students.
The footage will be sent to a Kansas Teacher of the Year selection committee.
Baxter said he's not nervous about the film crew's visit.
Page 2 of 2 - "I'm just going to be me," he said.
The Kansas Teacher of the Year will be named in November. That person will advance to the National Teacher of the Year program.
Baxter's recent recognition marks the second year in a row that Leavenworth has had a finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year. Last year, Laura Moyers was selected as the elementary Teacher of the Year for Region 2. Moyers teaches music at Anthony Elementary School.