With a unanimous vote on Thursday by the USD 428 Board of Education, Khris Thexton became the 25th superintendent of Great Bend public schools, effective July 1.
Thexton was named interim superintendent in December 2016 when Brad Reed tendered his resignation/retirement. Before that Thexton was an assistant superintendent in charge of business and operations for USD 428.
“This is an awesome opportunity for me to lead a great district surrounded by outstanding students, staff and community,” Thexton said. “I do feel humbled and honored to have this opportunity and I look forward to sharing in the successes and offering a great educational experience for the students of Great Bend.
“As a father of three children in our district, I want them to have the best education possible and as superintendent I have the opportunity to help lead our district and do my best to offer our students the best educational opportunities possible,” he said.
“I want to continue with the great programs we have going on in our district and do all that I can to support our students and staff in their endeavors.
“I will continue to work with the board to create a master plan for the future of Great Bend schools and how we can continue to progress and meet the ever changing educational needs of our students and community,” Thexton said.
“My number-one priority is to serve the students, staff and community of Great Bend,” he said.
Thexton noted that he brings 18 years of educational experience, four years as superintendent in Marysville and four years as an assistant superintendent for USD 428.
“I believe one of the greatest strengths of our district is our community support for our schools and the pride Great Bend has for the school district,” he said. “We have outstanding staff members and excellent students and their commitment to excellence is evident in what we do.
“I would like everyone to know that I welcome their comments and suggestions and will always be willing to listen,” he said. “I will do my best to communicate to all of our staff and will do everything I can to assist in helping do what is best for you and our students.
“I have truly enjoyed becoming a member of the Great Bend community and I am here to serve our students and to make our district the best it can be,” Thexton said. “I welcome input from all our stakeholders and will do my best to help create a school system they will continue to be proud of.
“I want to thank the board for giving me this opportunity to lead our district,” he said. “It is an honor for me to lead our district.
“I believe we have a great board of education and their passion for doing what is best for our students and staff has been their greatest priority,” he said. “I will do the best I can to help them implement the vision they have for our district. I am very excited for this opportunity and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for our district.”
Amanda Loving, Riley School second-grade teacher, has been selected as the USD 428 Teacher of the Year for the upcoming school year.
She will now advance to the Kansas Teacher of the Year competition.
“Mrs. Loving will be a great representative for USD 428 at the state KTOY level,” said Riley School Principal JoAnn Blevins. “She has worked with elementary students from kindergarten through sixth grade as a special education teacher.
“Mrs. Loving has brought her diverse list of learning strategies and differentiation ideas to the second-grade classroom this year,” Blevins said.
“She is a natural teacher who instinctively knows how to reach each student in the classroom,” she said. “Mrs. Loving constantly seeks out new ideas and stretches herself to help students.
“She embodies all of the qualities that a KTOY teacher should have and all of those that all children should experience in their teachers. She is a role model for students and adults alike.”
Loving is a graduate of Emporia State University with a BSE degree in elementary and special education and a master’s degree in in adaptive special education. In 2009, she was named Kansas Special Education Teacher of the Year.
Her career as a teacher started with a position with Barton County Special Services and she taught students with learning disabilities and emotional disorders (K-6) at Riley School for 14 years. She held that position until this year when she moved to a regular education class teaching second graders.
“I believe all children can learn, regardless of ability, disability, language, race or socioeconomic status,” Loving said in her application.
“It is my professional duty to reach past the differences each child possesses, find each child’s strength and provide the opportunity to learn,” Loving said.
“It is my goal that when a student leaves my room, I have helped build the confidence and belief that he or she has the ability to learn and will continue to make learning a lifelong endeavor,” she said.
“I love when a former student stops in to visit me, particularly those who are in high school or college,” she said. “I feel I have made a contribution and a difference in a life when a former student shares a memory with me about being in my class.
“Teaching has many rewards, but I feel the greatest reward is the ability to start a new day with students (and) a clean slate,” Loving said. “At the end of the day I can always find a fun moment no matter what kind of day the students or I have had. I hope the students are able to do the same.”
It was a fun-filled day and a half for USD 428 Education Foundation board members as they traveled to every school in the district handing out money to deserving teachers.
The volunteer board selected 31 projects to fund with minigrants.
Their fall dinner/auction fund-raising efforts allowed them to provide more than $20,000 in funding for classroom innovations.
“It is always difficult to decide which minigrants to fund because we receive so many good requests,” said Paul Snapp, foundation president.
“We know over the past 30 years the foundation has funded more than $350,000 in minigrants that have positively impacted teachers and students in the classroom.
“We want to thank the district staff and administration for their support of the Education Foundation in so many ways,” Snapp said.
Mary Hoisington, board member, helped present many of the awards.
She explained that the goal of the minigrant process is to give teachers additional innovative tools to keep students engaged and further develop practical skills.
“I’m always impressed with the innovation and creativity teachers put into minigrant requests,” Hoisington said.
“The USD 428 Education Foundation is a direct way the community can make a real impact on students in the classroom,” she said.
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