Wichita State alumna and TAP grad garners state teaching honor

Jami Dryden

Jami Dryden ’21 is one of 32 educators recognized for outstanding teaching skills through the Kansas State Department of Education’s 2024 Kansas Horizon Award program. Dryden teaches 3rd grade at Fort Larned Elementary School, Fort Larned, Kan. The educators, who were evaluated in all aspects of daily education, from student assessments and preparation of lesson plans to parent-teacher conferences and discipline, will be honored at a special ceremony during the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN) State Education Conference on Feb. 23 in Topeka.

Dryden was nominated for the award by Catrina McGurk, Fort Larned Elementary principal, who says this about the 3rd grade teacher: “Jami is deeply committed to the success of every student. She takes the time to understand the unique learning styles, strengths and challenges of each student, tailoring her teaching approach to meet diverse needs. She firmly believes that every child has the potential to excel, and relentlessly works to unlock that potential in each student in innovative ways.”

Before gaining her own classroom, Dryden, a 2007 Larned High School graduate, first joined the Larned school district in 2013 as a kindergarten paraprofessional. She also worked as a library aide at the former Phinney Elementary School, where she became determined to pursue a teaching career. She enrolled in Wichita State’s Teacher Apprentice Program (TAP), which provided her the opportunity to learn online while raising two young children at home, as well as to work full-time while completing her student teaching requirements. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2021.

Dryden, who is continuing her own education as a graduate student in learning and instructional design, notes that when she was looking for her first teaching position, she kept her job-seeking focus on her home territory of Larned. Now in her second year of teaching, she says she’s “incredibly grateful that I get to be a part of this team.”

So, what advice does this award-winning educator have for first-year teachers? For one thing, she says, it’s important to keep in mind that every student has a desire to be recognized for their efforts. As she puts it: “You can watch a student sit up taller just because you told them they’re doing a great job.”

WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement News Releases

News Releases Contacts

Welcome to our news feed. Here you’ll find the latest publications from the WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement. For additional information and any media questions, please reach out to our media relations team.

Director of Communications – Alumni
Connie Kachel White | connie.white@wichita.edu | 316-978-3835

Director of Communications – Foundation
Emily Mullins | emily.mullins@wichita.edu | 316-978-3407