• Teacher: Laurie Denk
  • Subject: Technology
  • School: Smoky Valley High School
  • Awarded: May 2011

Teacher Bio - Laurie Denk and the students in her technology class don't hide shyly behind their computer screens; they build websites for local businesses, teach eBay classes to local citizens and in turn have quickly become community ambassadors. This was exactly the result USD 400 had in mind last year when it decided to fund a state of the art technology center, called Vision-Tek, in downtown Lindsborg, Kansas.

Denk started teaching in 1986, and was acting as the Smoky Valley High School librarian when she inherited the information tech program and began her reign as Queen of the Nerds. She started building the course, leading a portable tech squad of students who helped out around the building. Last year she formally taught her first class out at Vision-Tek; next year she'll teach seven!

Both students and colleagues commend Denk's enthusiasm for teaching and the way she celebrates the problem solving process. Students in her class are encouraged to pursue their own interests, critically approach difficult situations and push boundaries. Due to Denk's efforts, Smoky Valley High School is one of the few schools in the nation recognized as an Apple Distinguished School, which is a designation reserved for educational programs that have demonstrated a strong integration of technology into the classroom and has illustrated "best practice" qualities of a 21st century learning environment.

Denk's receipt of the Educating Excellence award was featured on Salina's KSALLink.com