Skip to main content

District recognizes staff with April Students First! awards

Posted Date: 05/07/2020

District recognizes staff with April Students First! awards

Join us in celebrating the USD 413 staff members selected to receive a district

Students First! Award in April

for going well above and beyond expectations to meet the needs of our students

Grace Klaassen, Title I Aide at Chanute Elementary School

grace klaassen receive awardGrace exemplifies the district’s “Students First” motto.  She’s in the front hallway of CES each morning with a smile on her face, giving out good morning greetings, hugs, fist bumps and high fives. She creates a connection and positive relationship with every child she encounters. She is always patient, truly listens and identifies with the kids.  Throughout COVID-19, Grace has retained her positive attitude and continues making connections with students by  delivering lunches and her work at Cherry Street. She’s truly been a blessing at CES this year, and I know she has blessed the lives of many of our students.






Ashley Ausemus, first grade teacher at Chanute Elementary Schoolashley ausemus receives award

Ashley has exemplified the characteristics of a great classroom teacher throughout her career. She challenges her students in a loving manner and expects the best of them. When she took on the job of PLC leader this school year, she led the first grade team quietly and steadily throughout the school year. When the challenge of working from home arose, Ashley stepped up to the plate and her leadership skills have been amazing! She is organized, competent and communicates exactly what is needed in her quiet but constant manner. The 1st grade team is fortunate to have her as a leader!





melissa thurman award winnerMelissa Thurman, fifth grade teacher

at Chanute Elementary

Melissa is a teacher who is fiercely devoted to her profession and inspires her students daily. She is dedicated to her peers and job, but first and foremost her students. She is committed to her students’ achievement and this is an essential element to the success of her teaching. Melissa is concerned with her  student’s development and cultivates their curiosity and interest in learning. She strives to fulfill her responsibilities to her students not only academically, but in their SEL needs as well. The degree of loyalty Melissa has toward her profession is just one of her distinguishing characteristics. Drive by CES anytime after hours and you’re bound to see Melissa's vehicle in the parking lot. She is always willing to engage with the PLC team and add her ideas, with the ultimate goal being what is best for our kids. Melissa served our KNEA many years, and still supports her peers serving on the 411 team.




Karen Vallier, Title I Reading teacher at Chantue Elementary Schoolkaren vallier award winner

Karen not only works with the 1st grade team, providing support for struggling readers, she also helps teachers with best practices they can implement in their classrooms for all students. Karen is a wealth of reading knowledge and always willing to help other teachers in our building improve their craft. She provided running record training last year to all K-2 teachers, she collaborates with the Title reading team and she continues to spearhead the annual One School One Book reading program for Chanute Elementary. Karen is a true asset to both students and staff at CES.

terri markham receives awardTerri Markham, Director of Nutrition & Wellness

Terri Markham has always put Students First, it  just became blatantly apparent with the COVID-19 crisis. Before schools closed she was planning how to meet students’ needs if they couldn’t be fed in school buildings. Within a week, she secured locations for meal pickup, organized her own staff and a new crew of paraprofessionals, bus drivers and classified staff to load coolers and boxes onto buses and vans to deliver meals to rural routes and in-town sites. When food supplies ran short, she kept her positive attitude and became a fierce negotiator, buying what she could, and finding new vendors to fill the gaps. Terri Markham does not give up. She will always work hard to do what's best for the students in Chanute Public Schools.





Wilbur VanWinkle, Support Operations Bus Driverwilbur vanwinkle award winner

Wilbur always has a smile on his face and a giggle in his heart. When I was first learning to drive the bus Wilbur took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. He let me drive his route countless numbers of times until I became confident enough to go out on my own. He was always kind and patient and always made me feel good about what I was doing. Everybody loves and appreciates Wilbur. He’s one of the best!








Sharon Spangler, SPED Para at Royster Middle School

sharon spangler award winnerSharon goes above and beyond in the classroom. She chooses to help all students, not just those with IEPs. One day, she took the time to write out an entire page of notes as a study guide for a girl who wasn’t even "one of hers” - knowing that she wasn't able to get help after school or in tutoring. I am able to do my job 10 times better because of her presence in the classroom. She is going to be so greatly missed!









Darilyn Galemore, English Language Arts at Royster Middle Schooldarilyn galemore award winner

Mrs. G always does what is best for students, putting in many extra hours to make her classroom engaging and fun. She creates great connections with students who continue to come back to see her, even when she isn't their teacher anymore. Her dedication to students continues to show during the transition to online learning and she’s been extremely helpful to me and other teachers during this time. She is an outstanding teacher, and an amazing PLC leader, who always takes everyone’s thoughts into consideration and does everything she can to support her fellow teachers. She is a great role model for students and someone I look up to and learn from every day.


Sarah Stockebrand, Communities in Schools Coordinator at Chanute High School

sarah stockebrand awad winnerSarah Stockebrand always has her ears open for student achievements, student concerns or student complaints, and then responds with the tasks to praise to help effectively. She is not only a talker, but a doer. Given a task with a moment’s notice, she willingly responds to help or lead an activity for the students’ benefit. Sarah goes above and beyond to make sure students have what they need to be successful.



 Mike Golay,  Lead Custodian, coachmike golay award winner

at Chanute High School

Mike leads his staff by example and it shows from how clean and organized it is at CHS. He helps whoever and wherever he is needed. He is the most genuine person I know. He goes beyond on a daily basis to make sure students and staff have whatever they need, all while doing his job with a smile. Even when he’s busy, Mike is always willing to help someone out.