Teacher nominated for Kansas Horizon Award

Justice Mannie, Reporter

Laney Turner

Maize High science teacher Kylee Utt was surprised in her classroom on Sept. 4 by administration and superintendent Chad Higgins after receiving a nomination for the Kansas Horizon Award.

The Kansas Horizon Award is a program for teachers in their first year of teaching who have been acknowledged for their amazing performance in the classroom. The Kansas Exemplary Educators Network invites the educators to join. KEEN members may network with other excellent educators and take part in a variety of professional development activities throughout the year.  

“I was so surprised to see the admin team and district members in my room,” Utt said. “When they told me I had been nominated for the Horizon Award, I felt so honored and appreciated.”

Utt is not only a full-time teacher, but she also a student at Fort Hays State University.

 “There are some weeks where the balance is more lopsided between my Master’s homework and what I need to do for my classroom,” Utt said. “I am exhausted most of the time and always feel like I am one more thing away from being overwhelmed. There are a lot of long days of catching up, or a lot of late nights finishing assignments, but I think in the end the reward of completing grad school will be worth it and I think the thing that gets me through the more challenging days is knowing me and my students will be better because of it.”

Senior Alyssa Birkholz said Utt has had a positive impact on her and other students.

“She is always there for us when we need help,” Birkholz said. “And she helps us in personal ways and school.”

Principal Chris Botts said he is impressed with the connection that Utt has with students and the efforts that she puts in the school.

“She came in and she just brings energy, she brings passion, she brings knowledge.” Botts said. “But most of all, she brings positive relationships with kids, so I’m very proud to have her here.”