Koning, Kyler, Miller Crystal Apple winners





Summer Miller felt a little out of her element, speaking in front of adults on Thursday night.

"I don't enjoy speaking in front of adults. But kids? All day long," Miller, one of three winners of this year's Crystal Apple award, said.

Miller is an orchestra teacher at Garden City High School, Kenneth Henderson Middle School and Horace Good Middle School. She, along with Alexander Koning, a science teacher at Kenneth Henderson Middle School, and Karen Kyler, a special education teacher at Garfield Early Childhood Center, were presented with the Crystal Apple awards at a banquet Thursday night at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E. Kansas Ave.

The other finalists for this year's awards were: RoseMary Erives, Buffalo Jones Elementary School; Tamillia Moore, Edith Scheuerman Elementary School; and Tammy Ueke, Victor Ornelas Elementary School.

When accepting the award, Miller thanked her family, fellow staff members and the school district for making the fine arts a priority.

"Many, many other districts across our state and the country have cut fine arts, and that is something they have wisely chosen to not cut here, and I just want to say thank you so much for understanding how important music is to the total education of our students," Miller said.

She also said that being a teacher in USD 457 is the perfect fit for her.

"I couldn't go anywhere else — anywhere — and have what I have here."

Kyler thanked her family, staff members and her principal at Garfield Early Childhood Center, Josh Guymon.

She also shared a poem that she has outside of her classroom because she said people often misunderstand early childhood education.

"It says, 'Just playing. When you asked me what I did at school today, and I say, 'I just played,' don't misunderstand me. For you see, I am learning as I play. I am learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. I am preparing for tomorrow. Today, I am a child, and my work is play,'" Kyler said.

Koning thanked his family and said he felt blessed and honored by the award. He also acknowledged his colleagues at KHMS.

"I have made lifelong friends at KH. Their energy, enthusiasm and humor have helped me grow much more than they realize," he said.

Miller has a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music. She began teaching in USD 457 in 2000. Kyler has a master's degree in special education. She has been working for USD 457 since 2001. Koning has a bachelor's degree in education and has been working for USD 457 since 2008.

The Crystal Apple awardprogram was started by the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce in 1994 to honor outstanding students in Finney County. The first awards were presented in 1995.

Steve Dyer, executive director of the Chamber, said that the program was developed for two reasons: to increase recognition for outstanding teachers and because it is the responsibility of teachers to prepare students for the workforce.

The winners were presented with an engraved crystal apple, $1,000 cash award and iPads from Cox Communications. The other three finalists received cash awards of $250 each.

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