By CRISTINA JANNEY
Jerry Braun, Hays Middle School gifted teacher, was recently awarded the Kansas Special Education Professional of the Year by the Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators.
Braun was recognized at the Monday Hays school board meeting for his service to the district.
Braun has been a teacher for 24 years. He joined special education four years ago as the gifted teacher at HMS and Hays High School.
He also serves several other districts in the area as part of the special education coop.
"Jerry is an outstanding educator," Kyle Carlin, special education coop director, said. "He also is very innovative in his classroom and his program.
"He is also a strong advocate for all students, not just the students that he works with."
Braun has recently added new units in his classroom on brain science and dissection. The program also has a rich program on architecture, Carlin said.
"[He is] always looking at ways to improve and ways to add, and always will when we come to him and say 'Hey, can you help us with this?' he is willing to step in and lend a hand and take on a little more responsibility," Carlin said.
Carlin said Braun has also been a strong advocate in his work with KNEA. He was a national delegate for KNEA, as well been heavily involved in the Kansas Association of the Teachers of Mathematics.
"I was shocked and surprised," Braun said of his award. "Looking at our coop, we have phenomenal special ed teachers in our coop and phenomenal special ed teachers across the state. To be named Teacher of the Year, I have no words for that."
Board member Lori Hertel came to know Braun when she worked at Hays Middle School.
"I was so impressed with you and the way you were with children, your demeanor and the way you work with staff," she said. ... "I think one of the reasons you got that award is that when anyone comes into a room you, have this kind of flair about you. Thank you, and I am so proud of you."
Board member Craig Pallister also worked with Braun at HMS.
"He is a resource for special ed and I think continues to be a resource for math in the district also," he said.