K-ACTE Award Winners 2016

Teacher of the Year - StateKacey Preston

Kacey Preston is currently the Family and Consumer Science teacher at Yates Center High School. Her classes exemplify an interdisciplinary approach as well as an emphasis on critical thinking and community service. For a program about dating violence, she built partnerships with the local sheriff’s office, the high school’s drama and art departments, as well as the national organization, Jana’s Campaign, to educate teens about healthy relationships. For a lifetime wellness curriculum, she worked with the physical education teacher to integrate classes on both nutrition and lifelong fitness. And, after learning that their county had placed at the bottom of overall health rankings for the state of Kansas, her students planned and organized a Community Health and Safety Fair for Woodson County with the participation of 16 different agencies.


As an FCCLA chapter advisor for 13 years, Preston has had students serving as officers at both the state and district level. This year, four of her students qualified for national STAR Events.


Eight years ago Preston was named the K-ACTE Young Teacher of the Year. She was recognized with the 2011-2012 Outstanding Teacher in Community Service Award and Kansas FCCLA District H Advisor of the Year.


She is a member of ACTE, KATFACS, and NEA. She also serves on the Kansas FCCLA Foundation Board and Rolling Hills K-NEA Adboard, and is the Yates Center TAD local president. Preston is active in the Woodson County Cattlewomen organization and spends her summers judging food and arts and crafts at area county fairs. She is married to husband Gary and is mother to nine-year-old Andrew and three-year-old Lee Michael who always keep her open to new ideas and running nonstop.

Teacher of the Year - AffiliateJason Larison

Jason Larison’s teaching philosophy is built upon words he first heard as a high school freshman: “Learning to do, doing to learn,” the first half of the FFA motto. He strives to expose his students to a wide variety of hands-on experiences. From there, he encourages them to build skills with the mindset: just get a little better each day.


When Larison arrived at Riverton High School, low enrollment, crumbling facilities, and the failure of a state Department of Education’s review, had put the agricultural education program and the FFA chapter in jeopardy. During his first year, the curriculum was revised and approved by the state. In a few short years, the enrollment doubled and the membership of the chapter grew to over 70 students. In 2005 the doors were opened to an improved Ag Education facility, complete with a small animal laboratory, greenhouse, down-draft paint room, and a well-equipped agricultural mechanics lab.


In the past 15 years, Riverton has been named twice as the State Runner-up in the National Chapter Award, and they’ve been named twice as the State Champion. They have been the only single-teacher program in the top standings for each of the past two years. In fact, since Larison was hired, they’ve placed in the top ten state-wide. Riverton’s FFA chapter has produced multiple district and state officers and a number of members have been state and national proficiency award winners, as well as state and American Star finalists.


Through strategic marketing efforts, compelling activities, and consistent community outreach, the agricultural education department is thriving and the FFA chapter has maintained a 100% membership. One of the most popular events is the annual Community Pancake Breakfast which is free to community members, school faculty and staff, and students. The marketing plan for incoming freshmen has a more personal touch, with chapter officers hand-writing Christmas cards and creating and delivering Valentine’s card and candy; they follow up with a “Top Ten Reasons to Enroll in Ag Education” flyer. Membership in FFA is an all-but-required part of a student’s enrollment in the Ag Education classes at Riverton. A focus on “Food, Fun, and Friendships,” brings students into the chapter and gives them a reason to return.


Larison is currently chair of the CDE Leadership Committee. He has served as the KAAE vice-president for the Southeast District, which included work on the Executive Committee. And—in twenty years of KAAE Summer Conferences and Winter Symposiums—Larison has only missed once.

New Teacher of the Year - StateZana Manche

Zana Manche is a fifth year Agricultural Education instructor at Goessel High School. In that time, she has increased the size of the department to include 81% of the student body. Of her students who choose to continue in the agricultural field, 60% have used Articulation Agreements to gain hours in their related coursework. She has focused on the success of the school’s program, improving curriculum, and developing inventive lessons that challenge and inspire her students.


Using training in CASE organization and the NAAE Ambassador program, as well as community feedback, she has worked to create a rigorous and engaging program. She developed five in-depth areas of study within the department to include Animal Science, Plant Systems, Agribusiness Systems, Comprehensive Agriculture, and Power Structural and Technical Systems—and has worked to maximize opportunities for hands-on inquiry-based learning, technology integration, and experimental stations. The department’s facilities, which now include agricultural classrooms, a mechanics shop, and greenhouse, have continued to improve under her direction.


Since Manche took over as FFA advisor, the Goessel chapter has grown by 50% and has been in contention for the National Chapter Triple Crown Award for the last three years. Her students have demonstrated successes in the proficiency awards, Career Development Events, and state degrees.


Manche has been a K-ACTE member since she began teaching, as well as being am NAAE member for four years. Through KAAE, she has served on the State Fair committee for five years and has worked with fellow agricultural educators to increase FFA involvement in the State Fair. She serves as the meat goat superintendent for the Marion county fair and assists in 4-H projects. She is also assistant coach for the high school volleyball team and girls’ basketball program and is a member of the Keep Improving District Schools committee.


Born to a farming family In Hiawatha, Kansas, Manche grew up participating in 4-H and helping on her grandparents’ dairy farm. She received the Horizon Award her first year teaching and is currently working on a master’s degree in Agricultural Education.

New Teacher of the Year - AffiliateJillian Goodwin

Jillian Goodwin currently teaches at Erie High School where she started a new Family and Consumer Sciences department as a part-time faculty member just two years ago. The first week of school, she had only five students in each of her three classes, Family and Consumer Science, Sewing, and Child Development. By the end of the second week she had doubled and tripled enrollment in her classes. Eventually—with a total of over 60 students—the classes grew so much that the school needed to buy more furniture for her classroom. The FCS department’s continued success made it possible for her position to become full-time. From its humble beginnings, Goodwin’s FCS program now offers five pathways: Hospitality and Tourism, Family Community Services, Visual Arts, Teach and Train, and Restaurant Management.


Besides starting a new program at Erie, she was the FCCLA Assistant District Advisor of District J-East, so she started recruiting members for FCCLA. Before long, the chapter had three district officers and 11 state STAR Event competitors. At State, her students not only received a bronze award and several silver awards, they were also the State of Kansas National Program Award Winner of Stop the Violence and subsequently went to Nationals. By last year, her FCCLA organization had grown to 51 students, 20 of whom have competed at the district level and 12 at the state level.


In addition to her Family and Consumer Science activities, Goodwin is the Junior Class Sponsor, a member of the Intruder Safety Committee, the renaissance team, and the KNEA/NEA. She is also on the school’s wellness committee; as part of a statewide initiative, they hope to use home-grown food for the school’s breakfast and lunch program. They are in the process of writing a grant for an apiary, orchard, and garden on the school grounds. And, as a member of the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education Solutioneers team, she is researching green solutions with plans for composting waste from the apiary, orchard, garden, and lunchroom.


Last year, she became KATFCS District J vice president and served on the KATFCS Scholarship Committee. She became the State Executive Advisory Committee member for the Kansas FCCLA, participating in the Kansas FLCCA State Leadership Conference Public Relations Committee and the Official Business Committee. She has also served in K-ACTE House of Delegates. 

Young Teacher of the Year - StateAshley Weber

Ashley Weber has been the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Wabaunsee High School for the past two years; before that, she served at Mission Valley High School for seven years. At both schools, Weber’s passion has been to help her students prepare for the future.


In her Career and Life Planning class, which uses the Kansas Career Pipeline, her students have the opportunity to build relationships with professionals in their selected fields. The students get to spent a day job-shadowing in order to understand the daily realities and responsibilities of their career and the professionals come to speak to class. The students then create resumes and cover letters, and conduct mock interviews with local businesses.


The Wabaunsee school district provides a strong support system for Career and Technical Education and encourages the teachers to provide as many opportunities for the students as possible. After Wabaunsee was selected as the Rural Focus School for Kansas CTE Month, members of the Kansas Board of Education and the commissioner of education, as well as local business owners and media toured the school to learn what CTE offers the students. Family and Consumer Sciences is on the forefront at the high school: Weber’s Consumer and Personal Finance class and Human Growth and Development are already required courses and she hopes to add Career and Life Planning to the list.


Weber has also been instrumental in implementing Individual Plans of Study for each student at Wabaunsee High School. She works with the school counselor, principal, and superintendent to develop the goals and format, and partners with parents to put the plan in motion. The process consolidates information about preparation for technical school and college, required classes and ACT scores.


With Weber as the FCCLA advisor, the program has become a force in the local community and across the state. Her students have served as district and state officers and demonstrated success in STAR Events. Last year, her FCS Knowledge Bowl Team placed 2nd at the National Leadership Conference and has qualified to compete at the national level again this year.


Weber, actively involved in KATFACS, is currently the secretary, as well as a district representative. She was also on the committee responsible for researching lower membership costs for students and served as marketing chair to raise money for scholarships. She is a member of ACTE and K-ACTE and has served on the Kansas FCCLA Audit Committee and the SEAC Recognition Committee.

Young Teacher of the Year - AffiliateKaCee Thompson

Before KaCee Thompson’s very first lesson to antsy second graders at the San Diego zoo, her boss told her to be “a guide on the side,” not a “sage on the stage”. She has kept these simple words of wisdom in mind ever since, always considering how best to create lessons and experiences that enhance student growth.


Currently in her seventh year of teaching, and fourth year at Hiawatha High School, Thompson teaches courses in agribusiness, agriscience, agricultural mechanics, animal science, horticulture, plant and soil science, and wildlife management. Thompson believes that the most important part of her job is helping her students see the bigger picture of food, fiber, and natural resources industries through hands-on learning.


In and outside of the classroom, Thompson puts particular emphasis on personal growth and community service. As the FFA advisor at Hiawatha, her chapter currently has 57 members with ten chapter officers. The students have logged several thousand hours in their Agricultural Experience Tracker record books. They grow vegetables in the chapter’s garden in order to donate fresh produce to the local nursing home. They hosted a “Film on the Field to Help Fight Hunger” event and collected more than 200 non-perishable food items for the local food pantry. Her students have also demonstrated success in their Supervised Agricultural Experiences and Career Development Events and recently placed first as a team in the district’s public speaking contest.


Another important part to the program’s advancement is keeping her FFA chapter on the community radar. Frequent Facebook and Instagram posts and newspaper stories about student activities and accomplishments are the easiest ways for the community to see the value of FFA. Her students also host an 8th Grade Ag Day for local students.


In 2015, Thompson was named Hiawatha High School’s Teacher of the Year and was recently selected as the KAAE Teacher of the Year. Thompson maintains her own professional development by attending local and state agricultural education events like the K-ACTE Summer Conference and the KAAE Ag Ed Symposium. She is currently the district KAAE vice president, which holds a position on the state executive committee, and is chair of the Public Relations Committee. She is also an administrator of the KAAE Facebook page. 

Postsecondary Teacher of the Year - StateJennifer Snell

As a first year instructor at Pittsburg State University, Jennifer Snell uses progressive teaching strategies and technologies to prepare her students for real-world opportunities – and stresses high-order thinking and creativity in her class through the application of 21st Century Skills. She takes particular pride in building relationships with her students and maintaining a positive atmosphere, relying on the advice given to by a CTE instructor in graduate school: “Students don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”


In addition to teaching, Snell advises all of the Family and Consumer Sciences Education majors, as well as the university’s KAFCS chapter. She serves on a number of committees within the department and university and travels to high schools around the state to promote the program.


Snell is an active member of ACTE, K-ACTE, KATFCS, NATFACS, AAFCS, and the Family and Community Extension. Her noteworthy accomplishments include: becoming the youngest Teacher of the Year for Missouri’s USD 124, organizing a student-led Character Council Committee through an FCS course, and replicating a version of the Bob Hope USO Show for veteran’s using student volunteers.


Snell has a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences Education and an M.S. in Career and Technical Education from Pittsburg State and is currently working toward an educational doctorate in Adult and Lifelong Learning through the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. 

Carl Perkins Outstanding Service Award – StateKelly Hoelting

For 15 years, Kelly Hoelting has molded the agricultural education program at Mission Valley High School, creating a long-standing tradition of excellence that emphasizes personal growth and community involvement. The school’s agricultural education department has thrived under her leadership, with enrollment tripling over the last 10 years. In 2014, the Ag Ed department expanded to a two-teacher program due to the high demand of students wanting to take classes in the Agricultural Pathway. Mission Valley is also a Professional Development School for Kansas State’s agricultural education program; as a PDS school, college students observe Hoelting in the classroom and present completed lessons to the class.


The FFA chapter at Mission Valley is the largest student organization at the school. Community service is a major focus of the organization and, last year alone, the members volunteered more than 500 hours of community service. The chapter members organized a 5K Turkey Trot to raise money for a community Thanksgiving dinner which served more than 180 people. Their other projects have included the community clean-up, blood drive, Food Plot Planting, Family Trap Shoots, Hunter Safety Education, Alternative Day Food & Wildlife Presentations, Wood Duck and Bluebird Nesting Boxes, and benches and painting for the community center.


For additional service projects, Hoelting has lead a collaboration with the FCS and business departments to create Junior Viking Career Leaders. Last year the JVCL students collected rice for Harvesters, wrote Christmas cards to soldiers, and cut out felt blankets for the March of Dimes. Hoelting firmly believes that service is one of the most effective ways to teach 21st Century Skills to her students, not only improving the community but building strong leaders and citizens.


Hoelting has also began a local FFA alumni group which received grants and started a community garden, local wildlife food plots, and is working to bring a nature trail to the school. She recently organized an auction which raised more than $4,000 in scholarships for the senior Ag Ed members.


Hoelting has been an active member of KAAE for 15 years. As KAAE In-Service chairman, she planned the Ag Ed Symposium and the summer conference. As a member of the Mentoring Committee, she has presented workshops to the New Teacher Program and served as a mentor for first-year agricultural education teachers. She also serves on the Legislative Committee. This summer, she served as a mentor for the first ever multiple CTE Delta conference.

Carl Perkins Outstanding Service Award - AffiliateBobbi Qualls

“Collaboration is the key when working and living in rural Kansas, along with being flexible and organized,” according Bobbi Qualls who has taught Family and Consumer Sciences for 35 years, seven at West Elk High School and the previous 28 in Oklahoma (where she also taught chemistry).


Under Quall’s leadership, her FACS and FCCLA students have participated in numerous service projects, including community clean-ups, winter coat and toy drives, “Are You a Smartie or a Dum Dum” (a seat-belt campaign), the Pop Tab Challenge (which collected 35 pounds for the Ronald McDonald House), and the Chili Cook-off.


One of Quall’s most recent projects is “Patriot Pals,” a voluntary program that connects caring high school students with elementary-aged students chosen by their teachers to participate. The FCCLA and FACS students have to fill out an application, submit two letters of recommendation, and interview. Qualifications include GPA, citizenship, attendance, and good behavior. The purpose of the program is to provide role models that encourage healthy behaviors, build self-confidence, and promote positive character.


Besides teaching the FACS classes, Qualls has also taught CDA and Evening Adult Classes, Alternative Education Classes, and has been a summer youth academy instructor. She is certified in Early Childhood Education, holds a master’s degree in Interior Design and is a National Board Certified Teacher in Career and Technology Education. Qualls was named the 2013 KATFACS Teacher of the Year, 2013 Kansas CTE Teacher of the Year, and in 2014 was one of the top three ACTE Teachers of the Year in Region V.


She is a member of the K-ACTE Board of Directors and is currently the 2015-2016 KATFACS president. She has served as a Kansas FCCLA State Board Director, two terms as the SEAC president, and has been a judge for the FCCLA STAR Events.


Among her many accomplishments, Qualls was chosen to present support of the Dibble Institute in front of the Ways and Means Committee in Washington, D.C. – and she has served as the Pageant Director for the Kolache Festival Queen Contest in Prague, Oklahoma.

Lifetime Achievement Award - StateDr. Steve Harbstreit

Dr. Harbstreit grew up in Missouri and started his career as a high school Ag teacher and FFA advisor before he went on to earn his doctorate from the University of Missouri. When he retires in 2017, he will have dedicated over 46 years to agricultural education, 30 of those years at Kansas State University.


In his current capacity as associate professor at Kansas State University, Dr. Harbstreit has served more than just agricultural education – the College of Agriculture, the College of Education, and the university have benefitted from his efforts and dedication. He was instrumental in stewarding the agricultural education program from the College of Education to the College of Agriculture, helping position the department for its current success. In addition to teaching pre-service agricultural educators, he also teaches The Principles and Philosophy of Career and Technical Education for Kansas State’s agriculture, FCS, and business education students. He strongly stresses the role that cooperation and unity in Career and Technical Education starts at the secondary level and the relationships formed within those departments.


Dr. Harbstreit has been recognized with the Dave Mugler Distinguished Agriculture Faculty Award and Distinguished Service Awards from the ACTE, Kansas Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, National Alpha Tau Alpha; as well as an Honorary American FFA Degree from the National FFA Organization.


He has served as vice president of the AAAE North Central Region and as chair and vice chair of the NCAC-24 Administrative Committee in Agricultural Education. He has also chaired the ACTE Resolution Committee.

Lifetime Achievement Award - AffiliateDr. Sally J. Yahnke

For 21 years, Dr. Sally Yahnke has been a faculty member in the College of Education at Kansas State University. During this time, she has dedicated herself to preparing Family and Consumers Sciences teachers to meet the needs of today’s students and their communities. Her contributions to the FCS profession at the state and national levels have had a major impact on both teaching practices and curriculum. Early on in her career, Dr. Yahnke was involved in developing FCS curriculum which included personal and family wellness, parenting, and life-literacy skills for secondary education.


Currently, she is chairing the committee that is updating standards for Family and Consumer Sciences teachers in Kansas. Over the past 18 months, Dr. Yahnke has also been working on the national committee to recruit Family and Consumer Sciences teachers. She helped plan the first summit: “Filling the Educator Pipeline”. In the fall of 2015. She became the Coordinator of Career and Technical Education at Kansas State University. This position allows her to promote CTE at the university and across the state. A student ambassador program is being implemented to recruit future CTE teachers and to support the advancement of CTE at K-State. In addition to teaching, advising, and committee work, she has been generated more than $15 million in federal and state funded grant projects.


Dr. Yahnke is on the KATFACS board and has served in leadership roles in NATEFACS. She has served as chair and chair elect of the Kansas affiliate of the American Association for Family and Consumer Sciences and was recently honored as a Leader in Family and Consumer Sciences at their annual summer conference. She has been a member of NATEFACS, NATFACS, and ACTE for nearly 30 years.


Before she started graduate school in 1987, Dr. Yahnke taught home economics in rural Iowa for eight years, she was the only teacher in the department and taught six different classes every day.

Copyright ©  Kansas Association for Career and Technical Education
1200 SW 10th Ave • Topeka KS 66604 • (785) 233-2690 • Fax: (785) 234-2433
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software