Skip To Main Content
Meet Our 2024 Horizon Award Winner

Congratulations Mr. Ricky Gutierrez, Special Education Teacher at Turner Elementary.

The Horizon Award program, sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education, recognizes and rewards teachers who have served as outstanding representatives of excellent teaching in the elementary and secondary classrooms of the state during their first year of teaching. Out of the many first year teachers across the state of Kansas, only 32 are chosen each year as Horizon Award winners.

USD 202 is proud to share that our elementary nominee, Ricky Gutierrez, was awarded at the state level!

Q: Why did you choose to go into the teaching field?

A: I have always enjoyed working with kids and teaching was a common profession for both my immediate and extended family. I wasn’t sold on teaching for a while, but after a year working as a para in the Manhattan school district, I found a passion for special education that has led me to where I am now.

Q: What did you most enjoy from your first year of teaching?

A: I enjoyed motivating the students in their ability to grow. Fifth grade was new for me, and I quickly realized that 5th graders in special education, face many academic and social challenges that can push them into a fixed mindset regarding their character or abilities. My focus was to encourage them to advocate for themselves and believe that they were capable of growth if they allowed themselves to work for it. It was an amazing feeling to watch students’ outlooks change as they identified areas where they had grown through their hard work and perseverance.

Q: What do you most like about teaching in the Turner School District?

A: I love the unity amongst the district and the community we get to serve. I am blessed with some of the best co-workers who make coming to work a joy!