Mills-Weis receives Horizon Award



Math teacher Mollie Mills Weis holds her congratulatory balloon after being selected as the Horizon Award winner on Jan. 7 in principal Lisa Moore’s office surrounded by her family and colleagues.

As of Tuesday, January 2, 2020, math teacher Mollie Mills-Weis was awarded the Horizon Award, issued by the Kansas State Department of Education. The award is given to first year teachers who have shown outstanding teaching skills through the 2020 Kansas Horizon Award program. Mills-Weis was one of 32 teachers recognized for their hard work within their first year teaching.
Mills-Weis is a Newton High School graduate, upon finishing her high school career in 2009 she attended the University of Central Oklahoma for college and graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. While working towards her master’s degree in math, Mills-Weis discovered a love for teaching from tutoring students.
“I was working as a tutor and decided that I wanted to be a teacher just because of how much I enjoyed helping students learn math and seeing that ‘light bulb’ moment when they understand it,” Mills-Weis said.
Mills-Weis was first hired as a math teacher for the school in the spring of 2018, she had previous teaching experience as a tutor and as an assistant teacher in college, leading discussion courses in math. Head of the math department Erica Rickard said Mills-Weis was not only hired off of her teaching experience but also because of her energy.
“She always has a lot of energy that she brings to her students and planning and excitement about new resources she finds,” Rickard said.
After seeing how well Mills-Weis fit in at the school and her energy towards her class, Rickard and administrators nominated Mills-Weis for the Horizon Award in late September, 2019. Mills-Weis filled out the application and sent in recommendations so her name could officially be in the running.
“She was an amazing first year teacher, and not like a lot of first year teachers,” Rickard said. “She just fit right into the classroom, seemed to know how to help kids, wanted to help kids, so just was years ahead of most teachers when they first started teaching.”
When the school found out Mills-Weis had won the award, they gathered Mills-Weis’ mom, grandparents and the schools administration, calling her down to the office immediately. Upon getting to the office, Mills-Weis got a call from the Kansas State Commision of Education, Dr. Watson, telling her that she had been chosen to receive a Horizon Award.
“My peers were super excited, people around the school, I got lots of emails, and on social media a lot of people reached out and said ‘congratulations’ and ‘you’ve earned it.’ I’ve also had some students congratulate me,” Mills-Weis said.
For Mills-Weis, the most rewarding part of the Horizon Award is knowing that she chose correctly when she decided to begin teaching.
“The most rewarding thing is the affirmation and confirmation that going into teaching was the right choice and even when it’s hard being recognized kind of renews your energy to keep working hard,” Mills-Weis said.

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