Alumni News

March 25, 2013


Dyane Smokorowski

Andover Middle School eighth grade advanced language arts teacher Dyane Smokorowski (MET ’07), is the 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year. Nominated by her former principal Brett White, Smokorowski was honored by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Diane DeBacker during a ceremony in Wichita Nov. 17.

“It is truly a pleasure to present this award to Dyane Smokorowski,” said DeBacker. “When Dyane talks about teaching, her entire face lights up. She gets carried away with her enthusiasm for her profession and for her students, and it is impossible not to be carried away with her. I am grateful to have teachers like Dyane in Kansas.”

Smokorowski completed a Master of Educational Technology degree at MNU in 2007. The outstanding teacher and role model, known to her students as “Mrs. Smoke,” runs a student-centered classroom where she incorporates a variety of technology strategies to help students build stronger communication skills.

Recently, Smokorowski’s 8th grade students researched issues surrounding digital piracy, plagiarism, and copyright laws. Throughout the project, they used Skype to connect with and interview a wide variety of intellectual property experts. Throughout the course of the project, students talked to FBI cyber crime agents and the CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America.  

“Through this experience and others like it, I have successfully connected my small town Kansas students to classrooms on all seven continents, and with more than 30 experts in areas ranging from the entertainment industry to the American Revolution,” said Smokorowski.

Smokorowski is the second Kansas Teacher of the Year in the past three years to have earned a master's degree in education at MNU. Karen Tritt, a foreign language teacher in the Shawnee Mission School District, won the award in 2010. Tritt completed a master’s degree in Teaching and Learning at MNU in 2001. For more information on MNU’s master of education program, visit

deGraffenreidDr. Jeff DeGraffenreid (’96, MEd ’99)

The Olathe Fire Department, headed by Fire Chief Dr. Jeff DeGraffenreid (’96, MEd ’99), was awarded Accredited Agency Status by the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE). CPSE’s accreditation recognizes departments whose services and performance levels demonstrate excellence in the field. The status distinguishes the Olathe Fire Department as one of only three accredited fire departments in the Kansas City metro, and one of approximately 160 in the world.

Additional News

Rob McDonald (’77) was selected to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Southern Nazarene University. McDonald has served in pastoral ministry in the Church of the Nazarene for the past 34 years.

Steve Cecil (’81) has been elected to serve as the senior pastor at Westside Church of the Nazarene in Decatur, Ill. Cecil and his wife, Peggy (Denny ’84) have served in full-time pastoral ministry in the Church of the Nazarene since 1981.

Jerry Storz (’82) was inducted into Sigma Beta Delta (the International Honor Society for Business, Management and Administration) on January 19, 2013. Storz also successfully defended his dissertation, entitled “Faith-Based Boards: What Are the Challenges?” at Argosy University-Denver, Colo., in December.

C.B. Glidden (’84) was selected to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Southern Nazarene University. He currently serves as senior pastor at Fort Worth First Church of the Nazarene, and on the SNU Board of Trustees.

Gerald Smith (’85) was selected to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Southern Nazarene University. Smith currently serves as president of Nazarene Publishing House.

Kyle Miller (’01) was promoted to senior project manager at Axway, a leading international software company.

New York actress and musician Larissa Klinger (’04) performed with the USO Liberty Bells in Times Square for the 2013 New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.

Michael Scrivani ('05) was named senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Leavenworth, Kan. Scrivani completed a Master of Divinity at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2012, and was ordained February 3, 2013.

Stephen Netherton (’09) and his fellow members of the Baylor University Law School team won both the overall championship and the Professionalism Award at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s Tournament of Champions. Netherton, who is in his third year of law school at Baylor, was also recognized as Best Advocate in the Final Round.

Josh Transmeier ('12) is now a quality control chemist in the animal health division at Elanco Kansas City, a subsidiary of the international pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.

Dean Wessels (’12) and Stephen Wessels (’12) are now accountants at Black & Veatch, a leading global engineering, consulting, and construction company.