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Evangel grad named Kansas Horizon Award winner

Published on Sep 12, 2016 by Paul K. Logsdon

As a student, she piloted EU’s co-teaching program


SPRINGFIELD, MO — An Evangel University graduate has been selected by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to receive the 2016 Kansas Horizon Award. The annual award recognizes exemplary first-year educators.

Taylore Weitner teaches sixth grade English Language Arts at Mill Creek Middle School in Lenexa, Kan. She is also a member of the literacy committee, social committee and site council.

“I am excited and honored to represent Evangel through this award,” said Weitner, who earned her B.A. in English Education from Evangel in 2014. She is currently working on her Master’s in Educational Leadership, also through EU.

“I’m so proud of Taylore’s accomplishments,” said Dr. Susan Langston, associate professor of education at Evangel. “She has really blossomed into an effective teacher and a teacher leader. She is committed to constantly improving her skills, and she has not shied away from accepting the challenges that new opportunities offer her.”

To be eligible for the Horizon Award, teachers must have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding.

2016-08-C Taylore Weitner
Evangel University graduate Taylore Weitner was surprised to receive the Kansas Horizon Award for first year teachers. She is shown with Dr. Ron Wimmer, superintendent of the De Soto School District; Larry Breedlove, principal of Mill Creek Middle School; and Dr. Lowell Martinie, director of human resources for the district. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Weitner was honored last semester at a special ceremony during the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN) State Education Conference in Topeka, for her performance in the 2014-2015 school year.

The program is a regional competition with four regions corresponding to the Kansas state’s U.S. Congressional districts. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers may be selected for the award from each region.

Because of this award, Weitner has been invited to be a member of KEEN and will have the opportunity to participate in a number of professional development programs throughout the year.


Co-teaching Program at Evangel

Evangel University launched a co-teaching model for teacher-education students in 2013, and Weitner served as the test pilot.

“Piloting the co-teaching program at Evangel my senior year was one of my greatest memories,” she said. “I was at Glendale High School for the entire school year and worked with the same teacher. Dr. Langston was my evaluator. Each time she walked into the classroom, I could see her love of children, education, and teacher candidates.”

According to Langston, “The greatest benefit of the co-teaching model is that our students have a year-long experience in the classroom during which they are seen as a teacher rather than a student.”

2016-08-A class Taylore Weitner
Evangel University graduate Taylore Weitner teachers an English class at Mill Creek Middle School in Lenexa, Kan. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Following an apprenticeship model, Evangel teacher-candidates share responsibility for planning, instruction and classroom management equally with the cooperating/mentor teacher.

“Benefits to the cooperating teacher include having another qualified teacher in the room to assist with planning and teaching effective lessons, while lowering the teacher-to-student ratio to allow students more individual attention,” Langston explained.

“They are also happy to co-plan with the teacher candidate, to help the student teacher develop his or her skills,” said Langston.

Weitner was born and raised in Kansas City, Kan., and graduated from Piper High School in 2010.


Leadership Skills

At Evangel, she developed her leadership skills through involvement with the Activities Board and the Burgess Hall Council.

“My education classes and professors were the best parts of my time there,” she affirmed. “Each professor strived to know not only my name, but also my strengths and weaknesses. They helped me learn important skills that I still use in my classroom on a daily basis.”

Asked for one example, Weitner mentioned Dr. Shonna Crawford, who helped her students embrace Monday as a great day.

“Her enthusiasm and love of education has inspired me to start each week with ‘umph,’ and because of her ‘I Love Monday’ campaign, my students come to class every Monday excited and ready to take on the day.”

For more information on the Evangl University Department of Education, contact Dr. Colleen Hardy, department chair, at .



FIRST PUBLISHED in the Springfield News-Leader, Aug. 11, 2016