LOUISBURG — Kassy Miller has the distinction of being the first Spanish teacher at Louisburg Middle School.

On Oct. 18, Miller earned another distinction when she was named Louisburg USD 416’s Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Superintendent Brian Biermann made the announcement during his visit to Miller’s first hour Spanish Class. Dr. Biermann brought an entourage with him, including several of Miller’s family members.

“I was very surprised and overwhelmed,” Miller said. “Seeing my family walk into my classroom on a Monday morning had a big impact and made me really excited and happy. It is always special when the people who mean the most to you get to be there for a special, unexpected moment. It blew me away because there are so many amazing, hardworking, inventive, and caring educators in our district. I can’t wait to see who is next to be recognized.”

Miller began her teaching career at Louisburg Middle School in 2012.

“I was the first Spanish teacher at LMS since Spanish classes were not offered before my position was added,” Miller said. “As a new teacher, I had the unique opportunity to implement and structure the world language classes at the middle school level.”

Miller said she has enjoyed the creativity, organization, and reflection that have gone into that continual process of developing curriculum and lessons that will positively impact the students she teaches.

“The LMS staff and students are wonderful to work with and the environment always feels like a family,” she said. “I can’t believe it has been 10 years already.”

Born and raised in Overland Park, Miller said she feels lucky that she and all of her family still live there today. She said her family loves the Kansas City area.

Miller has three degrees from the University of Kansas. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Education and a Master of Science in Education.

“I had always enjoyed working with kids, and really value the idea of being a lifelong learner,” Miller said. “I really always knew that teaching is what I wanted to do. I decided on Spanish because it was of high interest to me, and I thought that if I studied to become a Spanish teacher, not only would I become more fluent and create opportunities for myself, but I would also be able to teach kids a new skill that would open a wide world of opportunities for them.”

Miller was the Kansas Department of Education Horizon Award winner in 2014.

She has received multiple grants in her efforts to develop the Spanish program at LMS.

Her pursuits have led to the addition of a Spanish classroom library, access to iPads, and the opportunity to “ditch” the textbook in order to cultivate resources that provide a language-rich, culturally-focused, immersive experience.

Miller is the middle school’s coordinator for English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Miller said her ultimate goal is that each student will use diverse language and cultural understandings from their middle school experience to make the world a more accepting and understanding place.

Outside of work, Miller said she loves to spend time with her family, boyfriend, and friends.

“If there is one thing I am certain about, it is that teachers need a really good support system at home, and all of those people have been there for me time and time again through the past 10 years,” she said. “My family has always been so encouraging and helpful throughout my teaching years, helping me to set up my classroom, sending positive notes and reminders, and helping me with creative ideas and projects.

“They are the ones I call when I have a great story about a student or a class, and they always encourage me to keep doing my best,” she said. “I also had a lot of extended family members that were in the education field, so it has been fun to share that experience with them as well.”

A post on the school district’s website about Miller being named the Secondary Teacher of the Year winner called her a rock star educator.

“In her tenure, Kassy has worked to develop curriculum spanning grades 6-12 and was instrumental in the development of language certification and CTE pathway development for students she sent to the high school,” the post reads. “Ms. Miller is a popular, engaging, caring, and talented educator. ... From coordinating and supporting English Language Learners (ELL) at the middle school, to supporting the Louisburg Dance program, Kassy has proven, time and time again, her passion for working with children and supporting our schools in countless ways.”

Miller said there are so many rewarding things about being an educator.

“I think the one that stands out the most is that I have a job based purely on building positive relationships with kids,” she said. “That is what I get to do every day. The students are hands-down the most important and the most fun part of the job.”

Another rewarding aspect of teaching Miller said she really loves is her subject area.

Miller said she believes middle school students thrive in a dynamic environment, and encourages her students through a variety of experiences such as digital correspondence with a class from Spain, a fundraiser for victims of a hurricane in Puerto Rico, and field trips to local cooking classes, Hispanic markets, and Central American and European restaurants.

“Teaching a foreign language like Spanish is naturally exciting, fun, and useful, and there are so many ways to be active and immersed,” Miller said. “In my class, students are choosing to expand their worldview and get out of their comfort zone, which is so important and rewarding.”

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or doug.carder@miconews.com.

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