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Alumni Spotlight: Tanya Mathieu ’15

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by Carol Best
Tanya Mathieu

Tanya Mathieu, class of 2015, has just been nominated for the 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year award by the Olathe School District. The first-grade teacher at Westview Elementary is one of two nominees from the district.

Earning her bachelor’s in elementary education at MNU in 2015, Tanya continued her higher education pursuits at Emporia State University earning a Master of Science in Instructional Specialist. Tanya completed her degrees as an adult student and found that her professors at MNU were exceptionally helpful.

“I would like to thank Dr. Ramona Stowe and Ms. Pam Burrus for their continued encouragement and support during my enrollment in the accelerated elementary education program,” Tanya said.  “Going back to school at age 37 had its challenges and these professors made sure that the curriculum was rigorous yet viable. They ensured all graduates were ready for the real world of education.”

All of Tanya’s years serving in education have been in the Olathe Public Schools. From joining the OPS team as a paraeducator to eventually becoming a teacher, students have always been her top priority.

“The students in my classroom are the axis on which my entire purpose is centered. They are the basis of all my decisions and the purpose of all my effort,” Tanya said. “They are, quite simply, the entire point. It is my absolute pleasure to spend each day in the presence of the amazing minds and limitless potential of the tiny humans in my care.”

Westview Elementary Principal, Cynthia Kapeller, comments that Tanya’s positive influence is evident in outcomes for her students and her interactions with coworkers.

“It has been amazing to observe how Tanya creates a culture of belonging, accountability and high achievement in her kindergarten and first grade classrooms,” Kapeller says. “I love her eternal outlook that anything is possible with passion and effort. In addition to being a master teacher for her students, she invests deeply in her colleagues. Tanya builds up and helps make everyone around her better. I am grateful to be engaged in the important work of educating children with Tanya!”

The Kansas Teacher of the Year award recognizes and utilizes representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state. Winners of the state award go on to the National Teacher of the Year Program.

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