• Teacher: Rhonda Reist
  • Subject: AP Chemistry
  • School: Olathe North High School
  • Awarded: March 2013

Teacher Bio - Rhonda Reist is the recipient of the March 2013 Educating Excellence award. Rhonda was nominated by one community member and one co-worker (Amy Johnston) , who was a former student that was so inspired by Rhonda that she too is now a chemistry teacher.

"Rhonda encourages extreme curiosity in all of her classes," said Amy Johnston, former student and current chemistry teacher. "She inspires students to ask questions about why and how the physical world works around us. Rhonda often talks in "big picture" terms about how all of the sciences are incorporated. Most students don't know anything about chemistry before they get to high school but Rhonda has inspired dozens of students to enter the field of chemistry specifically and many more to enter STEM careers."

Rhonda is known by her peers for going above and beyond to help her students achieve their full potential. "Rhonda is always in her classroom far beyond the required school day, " said community member, Levi Hogan. " Even in recent years, as she has taken on larger responsibilities within the department, school and district, Rhonda always makes additional time available to her students. She is always at school for hours after the school day has ended, and is available to help reinforce classroom concepts, teach science demonstrations, chat about the latest research, provide excellent letters of recommendation or even just to listen to someone who needs to talk. The strong friendships that Rhonda retains with former students attest to what a wonderful teacher and confidante she is. Current students, former students, and fellow faculty all frequently look to her for guidance and experience."

When asked what Rhonda enjoys most about teaching, she stated, " I really enjoy being around the kids, and I get a lot of energy from them. My students work extremely hard, and they will be here before school and after school. As long as I'm in the building there is some kid in my classroom. And when there is someone that is that big of a sponge, and wants to learn that much, how can you not provide them more and more?"