Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

Kansas State University Recognizes Kansas High School Science Teachers of the Year: Hutch High’s McCandless Among Awardees


By K-State News


MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State University is recognizing seven outstanding Kansas teachers with its High School Science Teacher of the Year Awards.

The award highlights and rewards inspirational and impactful high school science teachers throughout the state. Biology, chemistry, geology and physics faculty members in K-State’s College of Arts and Sciences selected the recipients.

Students majoring in biology, chemistry, geology and physics were asked to name the science teachers who inspired them to study science or made a difference in their growth and development, said Pamela Kempton, professor and head of geology. The nominees were then invited to apply, and a committee selected the awardees.

The following high school teachers have received the 2024 Kansas State University High School Science Teacher of the Year Awards:

• Biology: Brian McCandless, Hutchinson High School, Hutchinson, and Emma Stroyan, Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, Hays.
• Chemistry: Rhonda Reist, Olathe North High School, Olathe, and Carl Behrens, Wamego High School, Wamego.
• Geology: Eric Nelson, Bishop Seabury Academy, Lawrence.
• Physics: Josh Cochran, Labette County High School, Altamont, and Sundara Ghatty, Manhattan High School, Manhattan.

“High school teachers scarcely get the recognition they deserve, and the work they do is critically important to the state and to the educational and scholarly mission of K-State,” said Christer Aakeröy, university distinguished professor and head of chemistry.

The award recipients, their nominators and a few of their current students were invited to a recognition luncheon March 29 on the Manhattan campus. Each teacher was presented a $500 cash award, a certificate and an artistic piece of glassware custom-made by the university’s scientific glassblower, Jim Hodgson. The visitors also received lunch and a personalized tour of the campus and some laboratories.

“The past few years have been particularly challenging for our high school educators,” said Tim Bolton, William and Joan Porter professor and head of physics. “So, we wanted to acknowledge their hard work and recognize those extraordinary high school teachers who inspire students to go into sciences.”

“We owe a large debt of gratitude to the many gifted high school science teachers across Kansas,” said Mark Ungerer, director of the Division of Biology. “They provide a critical foundation to students who go on to pursue physical and life sciences degrees at K-State.”

The College of Arts and Sciences at K-State offers undergraduate and graduate degrees spanning the natural and quantitative sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and arts and humanities, along with research opportunities, hands-on experiences and robust advising to prepare students for successful careers.


As the nation’s first operational land-grant institution, Kansas State University has served the people of Kansas, the nation and the world since its founding in 1863 — and it continues to set the standard as a next-generation land-grant university. K-State offers an exceptional student experience across three physical campuses and online offerings, meeting students where they are and preparing them to achieve their personal and professional goals. The university is committed to its mission of teaching, research and service through industry-connected programs, impactful research-driven solutions, and a sharp focus on community engagement and economic prosperity.