Prairie Trail Middle School educator named 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year

The 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year was named as Taylor Bussinger, a social studies teacher at Prairie Trail Middle School.
Published: Sep. 23, 2023 at 9:37 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year was named as Taylor Bussinger, a social studies teacher at Prairie Trail Middle School, on Saturday, Sept. 23rd, during a special ceremony in Wichita.

Bussinger was announced as the 2024 Teacher of the Year during the Dale Dennis Kansas Teacher of the Year Banquet in Wichita by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson and Brian Skinner. About 300 people came out for the banquet at the Marriott Hotel.

“As a former history teacher, it is truly an honor to announce Taylor as the 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year,” Watson said. “He brings history alive for his students at Prairie Trail and continuously inspires curiosity in them. I want to wish Taylor and the members of the 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year team success as they travel across the state during 2024 representing Kansas education.”

Dale Dennis, and Susanne Martinez, the 2022 Kansas Teacher of the Year, Dodge City USD-443, served as emcees for the ceremony.

Bussinger went up against eight finalists.

After the announcement was made, Bussinger known to his students and colleagues as “Mr. Buss,” received congratulatory hugs from his parents, Larry Bussinger and Veronica Ingram, and his wife, Jill Bussinger, who is a math teacher at Prairie Trail Middle School.

“True education is authentic,” Bussinger said. “It’s messy. It’s real. It’s full of energy. It’s full of laughter. It’s full of tears, and it’s full of vibrant passion in which young people are inspired to be curious enough to know who they truly are in the context of an ever-changing world. And young people’s voices should be included in the narrative of what school should be. After all, it’s their future we are preparing them for.”

Out of 123 nominations, the 2024 finalists included: Erin Pittenger, an elementary teacher at St. George Elementary School (Rock Creek USD 323); Gretchen Elliott, a secondary art teacher at Smoky Valley High School (Smoky Valley USD 400); Fonda Telthorst, an elementary teacher at Piper Prairie Elementary School (Piper USD 203); Cherryl Delacruz, a high school mathematics teacher at Highland Park High School (Topeka USD 501); Michelle Tapko, a sixth-grade teacher at Roesland Elementary School (Shawnee Mission USD 512); Melissa Haney, an elementary teacher at Explorer Elementary School (Goddard USD 265); and Joanna Farmer, an agriculture teacher at Southeast High School (Wichita USD 259).

All of the finalists will work as a team to advocate for education and teaching.

Bussinger was also presented with a $4,000 cash award, and in addition, Bussinger will receive the Kansas Teacher of the Year Lifelong Learning Scholarship to attend participating universities free of charge as long as he continues teaching in Kansas.

He also will receive The Hubbard Foundation Kansas Teacher of the Year Ambassadorship, which provides funding for travel and other necessary expenses.

Bussinger will also receive a rental car from Enterprise Rent-a-Car for travel, and Jostens Inc. will provide him with a Leader in Education ring.

Bussinger is now a candidate for National Teacher of the Year. To see the full release click here.