School closings: Several districts closed Wednesday

KCK teacher, known for teaching English to multicultural students, named Kansas teacher of the year

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It's more than an award. A special accolade for a Wyandotte County teacher said being named top of her profession is a golden chance to grow.

"I'm just very appreciative of this opportunity and proud to be a teacher from KCK," Wyandotte High School teacher Whitney Morgan told FOX4.

The state of Kansas has 309 public school districts, each of which nominated one instructor as Teacher of the Year, a statewide honor that eventually went to Morgan, a Kansas State University grad who has been an English teacher at that school since 2013.

When it comes to the English language, Morgan is proving to be a window to wisdom. Multicultural teenagers are learning English from Whitney Morgan, most of whom were not born in the United States or in an English-speaking household.

On Saturday, Morgan was named Teacher of the Year for the state of Kansas, having taught English for Speakers of Other Languages to students from a dozen of different backgrounds.

"I want you to try to create a logos, pathos and ethos argument," Morgan said, instructing her students on Tuesday.

Morgan, who attended Shawnee Mission West High School, said her goal is to teach students to write, speak and read the English language as well as their neighbors in the U.S. do.

Morgan said she knew she was a finalist for the award, but she didn't plan on winning. Students have built a couple of displays in Morgan's second-floor classroom, which include giant congratulatory cards, flowers and baked goods, all expressing their appreciation for the accomplishment.

"I was very surprised," Morgan said. "I love it. I think teaching is very much a calling. I've felt called to this since I was a young child."

Morgan said this accolade also belongs to the KCK School District. Wyandotte High School is currently home to students representing 25 nations.

"I think it's a huge opportunity for our district as well. I think being an urban school in Kansas gives us a unique perspective and a unique place to speak from," Morgan said.

Morgan's students said its their teacher's energy that attracts them to the education, whereas non-English speakers might be less comfortable in other classrooms.

"I love this class the most," Israel Par, a native of Myanmar, said. "I try my best in every class, but when they don't understand us, it makes me feel very bad. She understands and encourages me to do work."

"Morgan sees to understand and know each side of her students. That's what makes her special," Lucas Pinherio, a native of Brazil said.

Morgan said the award is also an opportunity for her to grow. She and the other finalists for the award will tour the state, and help other teachers learn their passion. The instructor said that assembly of teachers will also meet with elected leaders as advocates for teachers' salaries and benefits across the state.