You are here

Unruh, Putnam receive Horizon Award

Mandy Malone Putnam

Courtney Unruh

For the first time in the program history, USD 308 has two Horizon Award winners, which goes to top new teachers.

Courtney Unruh, sixth grade teacher at Hutchinson Magnet School at Allen, and Mandy Malone Putnam, science teacher at Hutchinson Middle School – 8 received the award for 2017-18.

The educators are the district’s first Horizon winners since 2012-13.

Both educators received a telephone call Monday afternoon from Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson telling them they were winners of the Kansas Horizon Award.

The Horizon Award program, currently in its 16th year, allows all school districts in the state an opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the award. To be eligible for a Horizon Award, teachers must have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding. The Horizon Award program is a regional competition with four regions corresponding to the state’s U.S. Congressional districts. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers may be selected for the award from each region.

            Bryan Cunningham, Hutchinson Magnet School at Allen principal, said that Unruh is a fantastic educator.

            "Ms. Unruh is a welcomed addition within our positive and caring culture,” Cunningham said. “She pairs high expectations with calmness, consistency and patience. In her early career, she is able to embrace the importance of putting students' needs first and developing strong relationships with students and staff."

Bruce Hurford, principal at HMS-8, said Putnam had been a great addition to his staff.

“Mandy Putnam has had a tremendous influence on the increasing success of our teaching staff at HMS-8,” Hurford said. “She is a true professional and has proven over and over that years of experience is but one factor that can help an educator be successful. Mandy's flexibility, her desire to improve every day, her understanding that we all must continue to learn and the willingness to utilize evidence in her decision making have helped make her so deserving of this award.”

            As recipients of the Kansas Horizon Award, Unruh and Putnam are now members of the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN), a network of educators from around the state who have been formally recognized for exemplary performance. Members of KEEN have an opportunity to network with other outstanding educators and participate in a number of professional development programs throughout the year.