DHS Communication Arts teacher named Teacher of the Year for district

De Soto High School Communications Arts teacher Donna Rhodes accepts her certificate for Teacher of the Year from Superintendent-elect Doug Sumner (left) and Principal Dave Morford. Photo courtesy of USD 232.

De Soto High School Communications Arts teacher Donna Rhodes accepts her certificate for Teacher of the Year from Superintendent-elect Doug Sumner (left) and Principal Dave Morford. Photo courtesy of USD 232.

Donna Rhodes, a Communication Arts teacher for sophomores at De Soto High School, is sure she'll retire someday but that's not a day she thinks about.

"I can't imagine not teaching or thinking about teaching or planning my lessons," Rhodes said. "Teaching is part of who I am."

This passion for her work is evident to her students and her fellow teachers, which is why she is the 2011 De Soto school district's Teacher of the Year at the secondary level.

"I'm very honored by this award," Rhodes said. "There are so many great teachers in this district, I'm not really sure I rank this high among them."

Rhodes was selected from a group of 94 candidates by a committee comprised of district teachers, Board of Education members and representatives from the community. Teachers are nominated for the award by fellow staff, students or parents.

Surprised or not, this wasn't the first time Rhodes has been recognized for her dedication to education. Last year she was selected Teacher of the Year for DHS.

For Rhodes, there is more to her job than teaching.

"I have a real affinity for teenagers. They really just need someone to listen to them and encourage them," Rhodes said. "As a teacher there's only so much I can do but I see these kids and some of the scary situations they're in and I just try to help them find their strength to make it through."

In addition to teaching Communication Arts, Rhodes is the assistant coach of the DHS Scholar's Bowl team. She has been teaching in De Soto for the past five years and has 17 years teaching experience total.

"I've been very impressed with DHS and this district during my five years here," she said. "I'm so glad I landed here."

A landing that almost didn't happen. When Rhodes' husband accepted a job in the area five years ago, she nearly signed a teaching contract with a different district in the area. DHS Principal Dave Morford called Rhodes for an interview the night before she was to sign her other contract.

"I came [to DHS] for the interview and it just felt right."

Rhodes will represent USD 232 in the 2012 Kansas Teacher of the Year competition.

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