Terrific teachers

Local educators share their love of teaching

Written by Sara Garrison

National Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4 through 8, making it an ideal time to thank a teacher for the positive impact they have made in your life. Three Wichita-area teachers share why they love teaching.

Catherine Klunder

Wichita Public Schools Distinguished Classroom Teacher of the Year honoree, Catherine Klunder, has a passion for education that began at an early age.

“I can’t remember a time in my life where I was not around education,” she says. “My mother and sister are teachers, I have a sister who is a school counselor and my dad was a professor at Wichita State University. It’s so neat for me to think back about how my parents influenced my path. Being a teacher is something I always wanted to be.”

Catherine currently teaches fifth grade at Harry Street Elementary.

“I love being a teacher. It is an immense privilege and honor to spend a whole day, every day with my class,” she says.

“Catherine loves her students,” says Kathy Klunder, Catherine’s mom, who has taught for over 30 years at Cloud Elementary. “Teaching is her passion and her kids love her. Catherine makes her students feel like the most special people on earth.”

With distance learning taking place, Catherine says what she misses most is interacting with her students each day. “Teaching is the best job there is. There is nothing better than being a teacher and watching kids learn and grow every single day.”

Conolley August

Conolley August teaches fourth grade at Meadowlark Elementary in the Andover School District.

“I love seeing the growth of my students from the beginning of the year until the end,” says August. “Witnessing those ‘aha’ moments and interactions with others as they develop socially and emotionally, is such a fun process to watch and be a part of.”

Julie Prater’s son, Judson, is currently in August’s class. She was impressed with the teacher’s approach to smoothing the transition to distance learning.

“Conolley called Judson prior to the first day of online classes and eased his anxiety. She told him, ‘We will get through this together,’ ” says Prater. ”We love Ms. August. She is nurturing, caring and she really understands her students. She is a really great teacher.”

August says, “There is nothing more magical than seeing a kid light up and understand something and see their learning in action.”

Shane Walck

Dedicated and caring are just a few words used to describe fifth grade teacher at The Independent School, Shane Walck.

Walck started his career in education more than 25 years ago with Wichita Public Schools prior to coming to Independent three years ago. “I love teaching and watching the kids soak in knowledge and learn,” he says. “I enjoy making learning exciting and connecting with my students, academically and on a personal level as well.”

Amy Treanor’s daughter, Tallulah, is currently in the teacher’s fifth grade class. Treanor says, “Mr. Walck truly cares about his students and connects with them as individuals.”

“I believe it is really important to love school,” says Walck. “I had a bad experience with bullying as a child. I don’t allow bullying of any form in my class. I never want a child to have a bad experience.”

As The Independent School transitioned to distance learning, Walck says the adjustment has been minimal for his students. “I have tried to keep class as similar to before break as possible. “My student said distance learning is just like being at school. To me, that is the best compliment. I wanted that consistency for my students.”

“Mr. Walck is such a nurturing teacher who really pushes his students to be their best possible selves,” says Treanor. “I believe teaching is his north star. I truly feel teaching is his life’s purpose and he is living his passion.”

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