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2021 KU seniors honor high school teachers with Wolfe Family Teaching Awards

Wed, 05/19/2021

LAWRENCE — Three outstanding high school teachers will be recognized with the 2021 Wolfe Family Teaching Award this graduation season.

“Great teachers impact people’s lives,” said Rick Ginsberg, dean of the School of Education & Human Sciences. “This year’s winners of the Wolfe Teaching Award embody just that — incredible teachers who have had a significant impact on the lives of KU students.”

Nominations are submitted by KU seniors. Students from any major can nominate their former teachers, and the winners can be high school teachers from anywhere in the world. The 2021 award recipients:

  • Nikki Chamberlain, Salina South High School, Salina
  • Sarah Goodman, Eureka High School, Eureka, Missouri
  • Damian Johnson, Eudora High School, Eudora.

Chamberlain was nominated by Tyler Ross, a senior in microbiology with minors in both psychology and sociology at KU. Ross took Chamberlain’s chemistry and Advanced Placement (AP) chemistry classes while also serving as her lab assistant in high school. In the nomination, Ross specifically wrote: “From the skills learned in the lab to the mentorship she provided, no one prepared me for the rigors of college more than Mrs. Chamberlain. Thanks to her, I, and many of my peers, have been successful in college and look forward to using the skills I have learned to pursue a career in service of others.”

Goodman was nominated by Zachary Thomason, a senior in business accounting with minors in both public policy in the U.S. and Spanish at KU. Thomason took Goodman’s advanced language arts, research, presentation skills course as a sophomore in high school. In the nomination, Thomason wrote: “The passion, drive and energy she puts into investing in her students is unparalleled. If the heart of teaching is the teacher and their love of educating today’s youth, there is no one who exemplifies that more than Mrs. Goodman does.”

Johnson was nominated by Jesse Dennison, a senior in pharmaceutical studies at KU. In the nomination, Dennison describes Johnson’s ability as the band teacher to reduce the stress and pressure of learning to play while also achieving greatness. In the nomination, Dennison wrote: “One of the most important things that Mr. Johnson taught us was to have fun. He encouraged student leadership and fostered many opportunities to fall further in love with music.”

Recipients each receive a cash award of $3,000, and their respective high schools each receive $1,000. The award winners were selected from a large pool of outstanding nominees by a committee of faculty, administrators and students from KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Education & Human Sciences.

The award recipients are typically honored during commencement weekend at the KU School of Education & Human Sciences convocation ceremony, along with a dinner held in their honor. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s in-person convocation ceremony has been canceled. Award recipients will receive a plaque in honor of their accomplishment. 

The Wolfe Family Teaching Award was created in 2006 with a $250,000 gift from R. Dean Wolfe, business administration, ’66, and juris doctorate, ’69, and Cheryl L. Wolfe, Spanish education, ’69, Clayton, Missouri, through the Wolfe Family Foundation. The award fund is managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.



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