Ochoa receives Horizon award


Kaeden Thurber

Spanish teacher Chandlor Ochoa sits in her room in front of her class expectations poster. Ochoa was recognized as the region four Horizon Award winner for secondary education.

Second year Spanish teacher Chandler Ochoa was called to the office Monday morning Jan. 7. Ochoa was told through a phone call from Dr. Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, that she was one of the recipients of the Kansas Horizon Award which she was nominated for in October.

The Horizon award recognizes first-year teachers for their excellence in the field. Nominees must be licensed in Kansas and must be nominated by their building administration. According to ksde.org, there are four regions of schools receiving awards. Newton is classified in the fourth region. A committee chooses four teachers from secondary and elementary schools, only 32 teachers are awarded each year.

During her first year, Ochoa experimented with different teaching styles including removing all student desks. This year Ochoa even removed her own teacher desk. Principal Lisa Moore describes how her decision to remove the desks were just one of Ochoa’s winning qualities to receiving the Horizon Award.

“She tries new things. She takes risks, she’s not afraid of limitations, she has a deskless classroom, she incorporates a lot of technology and she uses a lot of kagan activities,” Moore said. “A lot of her learning is chunked and I see a lot of group activities and partner activities, presentations and singing.”

Ochoa uses her vast network of people and resources that she believed helped her win the award.

“I have a cohort of teachers that are in my same program that we communicate back to and bounce ideas to each other,” Ochoa said. “I have my mentor LuAnn Zook who is from the district, who has been amazing. I can go to her with an issue and she’s willing to help whenever you need.”

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