Two Southwestern College education majors will be honored at a conference on Feb. 26, in Topeka. Melody Bryson, elementary education senior, and Mary Requena, elementary education senior, have been nominated by the college’s education department for this year’s “Teachers of Promise” award.

Every college in Kansas is eligible to nominate two students for this award. David Hofmeister, director of teacher education, said, “The award is judged around leadership and who has taken on the commitment to be a leader. These students stand out in the faculty members’ eyes as being a future leader. It is a competitive award.”

There is no other criteria other than the student must be part of the education program. Students in the Professional Studies program are also eligible. Faculty in the education program nominate students who they feel fill the description of the award and then the faculty votes on the nominees. “The award typically goes to seniors who are student teaching or have just student taught,” said Hofmeister.

This year, faculty had 70 students to choose from.

Requena is spending her final semester student teaching in Wichita and will graduate in May. “I have had a wonderful experience going through the education program at Southwestern. Not only has it challenged me as a person, but as an educator as well,” said Requena.

Bryson and Requena will attend a two-day conference in Topeka where they will meet with other “Teachers of Promise” recipients, attend workshops and meet with other individuals of importance in the field of education. In past years, the commissioner of education and directors from different departments of the Kansas State Board of Education have been among those in attendance.

Hofmeister said one of the problems faced by educators is the lack of a career path. “A person can start teaching first grade and 25 years later still be teaching first grade. Even though they’ve improved, there isn’t necessarily a visible advancement,” said Hofmeister.

The award is intended to recognize the importance of educators. Hofmeister said, “We are working to establish a generation of leaders. We find out who they are and then we can continue to build their strengths and capacities within public education.”

Requena plans to begin her career working with elementary-aged students. She also hopes to continue her education by pursuing a Master’s degree in education.

Bryson will graduate in May. She also plans on pursuing a Master’s degree in education.