The College of Education at Pittsburg State University has chosen a rising administrator and a storied educator for its two annual distinguished service awards, as well as two students for the Teacher of Promise awards.
The awards will be presented at the College of Education Awards Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Dec. 14 in the Bicknell Family for the Arts by Dean James Truelove as part of the annual Student Teacher Recognition Ceremony.
Taylor Holland, assistant principal for Oskaloosa School District, was selected for the Distinguished Service Administrator Award.
Holland, a native of Tonganoxie, earned a Bachelor’s in Education at Pitt State in 2014 and a Master’s at Emporia State in 2020. She has been a K-12 building administrator for two years. Prior to Oskaloosa, Holland taught at the middle school and high school levels.
Junior and Senior High School Principal Felicia Yoakam described her as a “dedicated, knowledgeable, student-focused administrator” who builds positive relationships and balances many roles, including ACT and PSAT coordinator and CTE Pathways development, and curriculum implementation.
Elementary Principal said many creative ideas from Holland, a proven problem solver, have been used to make the daily workings of the school run smoothly and efficiently.
Holland said she had a “one of a kind” educational experience as a student at Pitt State that helped mold her into the educator she is today.
“I am so appreciative of the leadership opportunities I had while attending school and I loved the hometown support!” she said. “My time in Pittsburg is something I think of so fondly.”
Holland said it was humbling to receive the award.
“I have been blessed to work with and learn from phenomenal administrators and mentors and am always looking for opportunities to better meet the needs of my staff and students,” she said.
Jeff Shaw, longtime eighth grade science teacher in Arkansas City, Kansas, was selected for the Distinguished Service Teacher Award.
Shaw earned a Bachelor’s in Education at Pitt State in 1988 followed by a Master’s at Kansas State University in 1990. He has taught in the same classroom in his hometown for 30 years.
A member of the Track and Field team at Pitt State, he was a successful javelin thrower and team captain alongside the decorated athlete Monte Weathers. That love for athletics extended to his career; he has been a coach in multiple sports and used his passion for Track and Field to help students become state champions. He coached football for many years and has shared one of his favorite hobbies, golf, with students to give them a game they can enjoy for life.
“My grandpa was a coach and teacher, and I was inspired by him to go into education,” he said. “It’s been a great career. I just love working with young people, love the ‘aha’ moments, and it’s rewarding when they still come around to visit after high school and say ‘hey, coach, how you doing?’.”
Shaw volunteers with the After School Program and Summer School, creates Project Based Learning projects to connect students to the community, volunteers to give students individual lessons to improve a skill or their sport, and attends local youth recreation events to cheer them on.
Evan Burke, assistant principal, said Shaw was assigned to be his mentor when Burke first came to Arkansas City as a fellow science teacher. He credits Shaw with helping him with advice, guidance, and support in meaningful and lasting ways.
“Jeff has had a storied career; ask any Ark City resident about this man and you will see a smile break out on their face followed by a story of how he has made a positive impact on their life,” Burke said. “He is an outstanding educator that Pitt State can be proud of.
Student Teachers of Promise
Averi Wilson, an Elementary Education major from Baxter Springs who is student teaching in Riverton, is the Elementary Education Teacher of Promise.
Olivea Kittrell, an Art Education major from Webb City, Missouri, who is student teaching at Webb City High School and Eugene Field Elementary, is the Secondary Education Teacher of Promise.
The Teachers of Promise Award is a statewide initiative developed by Kansas State Department of Education.