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Ad Astra Radio’s May Peoples Bank and Trust Classroom Hero Recipient Aspen Rank


By Brenna Eller


McPHERSON, Kan. — Ad Astra Radio is proud to announce Aspen Rank, Preschool Teacher at Lincoln Elementary School as the most recent recipient of the Classroom Hero Award presented by Peoples Bank and Trust.

Each month, Ad Astra Radio randomly selects a different educator, from community nominations, to receive the Classroom Hero Award, along with a “Thank You” gift basket. Gift items are courtesy of community partners, including Peoples Bank and Trust, Midway Motors, Stutzman’s Greenhouse and Heartbeat Coffee.

Aspen Rank has been teaching for a total of eight years with USD 418; seven were at Lincoln Elementary.

Rank is a Hutchinson native and graduated Buhler High School in 2002. 

When asked what made her decide to teach, Rank said that she was originally a journalism major and once she got into the real world, found that she didn’t love politics so much. 

“Then I started being a para in a couple of Hutch schools and just fell in love with it,” Rank said.

Her favorite part about teaching preschoolers (ages 3 and 4) is focusing on the social/emotional aspects.

Rank added that being the “safe person” for her students is her favorite part.

“They’ve got to learn to learn before they get anywhere else,” Rank said.

Mrs. Rank has earned her administration degree, so at some point, she would love to move up, but plans to stay where she is for now.

“I’ve had a great class this year,” Rank said. “This has probably been one of the best classes I’ve had. They love me and it’s fun.”

This is her second year with some of her students and her first year teaching a “combo” class and she said she has loved the relationships she had built with her students in the process.

“Combo” is combining the 3-to-4-year-olds and teaching them together instead of separating the age levels. 

“We started to do ‘combo’ last year, so I have 3 and 4-year-olds this year,” Rank said. “I got some of my 4’s again. Next year, I’ll have a couple of my 3-year-olds again.”

Rank explained that this way, she gets to build a relationship with her students and the format helps to establish their learning going one more year before sending them off. 

In an anonymous nomination, Mrs. Rank was described as the most dedicated, hardworking teacher in the district. 

“Aspen has not only been able to obtain two master’s degrees while raising five kids, but also while teaching full-time. She really cares for her students,” the nominator said. “She laughs with them, cries with them and is super proud when the students learn from her teaching.”

The Classroom Hero Award seeks to highlight the hard work and dedication of those on the front lines in our local schools. Nominations are continually being accepted at

Ad Astra Radio has been locally owned and operated since 1986 and is proud to be your hometown radio station.