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Unruh honored as Kansas Teacher of Promise

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College senior Michelle Unruh recently attended the Kansas Teacher of the Year 2016 State Awards Banquet.

She did so because the college’s Department of Teacher Education named her a “Teacher of Promise.” College and university students nominated for this award were honored, along with the seven finalists for 2016 Kansas State Teacher of the Year, at the banquet held Nov. 21 at the Wichita Marriott.

Unruh, a 2011 graduate of Goessel High School, graduated from Bethel in May 2015 with a degree in music and is completing education licensure this fall.

She did half her student teaching at Hesston Elementary School (USD 460) and is now doing the other half with students in Grades 1-12 at Freeman (South Dakota) Academy.

Unruh attended the 2016 State Awards Banquet with her parents, Fred and Diane Unruh, and older sister, Kristin Unruh.

Diane and Kristin are also Bethel College teacher education graduates and kindergarten teachers – Diane at Sunset Elementary School (USD 373) in Newton and Kristin at Hesston. Three years ago, Kristin was also a Bethel teacher education department Teacher of Promise.

Michelle Unruh was a member of the Bethel College Concert Choir, for which she was a rehearsal accompanist, section leader and, as a Walter H. Hohmann Choral Conducting Scholar, a student conductor.

She sang with the a cappella women’s ensemble Woven and played clarinet in the Bethel College Wind Ensemble.

This fall, in addition to student teaching, Unruh served as the student assistant for the biennial Worship and the Arts Symposium, responsible for many of the publicity and logistical details that made the symposium possible.

Twice each year, Kansas colleges and universities that offer teacher preparation programs are invited to choose one or two students identified as Teachers of Promise to participate in a specific professional learning and recognition opportunity.

Teachers of Promise selected in the fall attend a half-day workshop presented by the Kansas Teacher of the Year Team, comprised of the sitting Kansas Teacher of the Year and the seven state finalists (Kansas Regional Teachers of the Year) for that school year.

The workshop is held in November, in conjunction with the Kansas Teacher of the Year State Awards Banquet, to which the Teachers of Promise are also invited.

During the workshop, the education students hear and learn from eight exemplary teachers with a passion for teaching and excitement about working with those soon to be entering the teaching profession. They share resources, strategies, lesson plans and tips.

At the banquet, Teachers of Promise are introduced and presented with framed certificates of recognition by the Commissioner of Education.

Bethel looks forward to hosting the 2016 Teacher of the Year Team on campus Jan. 26, when they will present to teacher education students at 1 p.m. in Will Academic Center Room 216

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015-16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015-16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.