Susan Mička, of Lawrence High School, is the winner of the Lawrence Schools Foundation’s 2021 Special Award for Excellence in Teaching. Known as the Bobs Award, the annual honor comes with a $10,000 prize.
In video posted on Twitter, Mička (pronounced Meech-ka) slowly enters the LHS commons area with interim LHS principal Cynthia Johnson. With band members performing joyfully and a crowd of dozens clapping, Mička throws up her hands in astonishment and runs across the library to hug excited audience members.
Mička, a reading specialist at LHS, teaches literacy workshop and interpersonal and communication skills (known as IPS). The Times recently featured Mička and her IPS students in a previous article.
Known as Susie — even among her students — she also coaches a Special Olympics-sponsored program called unified sports that’s open to all students.
According to a news release from the foundation, Mička has taught at LHS 16 years with previous teaching stints of two years in Hungary and Slovakia, and three years at J.C. Harmon High School in Kansas City, Kan.
During the nomination process, a peer said of Mička, “IPS is a central part of the LHS’ school culture, but their influence has spread far beyond the walls. This development became a perfect fit with Susie’s energy and drive.”
And a former student wrote of Mička, “The IPS program at my school has enabled me to not only connect with (a) diverse range of students but have a positive influence within my school community. The most considerable impact of IPS, though, exists outside of the classroom. Through the efforts of Mrs. Mička, my peers and I, we have brought a paradigm shift in the way Lawrence High views those with intellectual disabilities.”
According to a Facebook post by the foundation promoting the nomination form, several Lawrence businessmen and educators — all named Bob and choosing to remain anonymous — launched the award through the foundation in 1997.
“The recipients of this award all have one thing in common — their classrooms are fun, they inspire creativity, and learning is infectious.”
The form says nominations may be submitted by any certified teacher or building principal in Lawrence public schools but may not be submitted by the superintendent, school board, members of the Bob’s group or private citizens. Teachers may not self-nominate.
Here’s a look at previous Excellence in Teaching Award recipients:
1997 – Val Howland (Broken Arrow Elementary School)
1998 – Gary Webber (Southwest Junior High School)
1999 – Sue Siegfried (Woodlawn Elementary School)
2000 – Dr. Victoria Beals (South Junior High School)
2001 – Pamela Bushouse (Free State High School)
2002 – Brian “Chip” Anderson (Lawrence High School)
2003 – Kathy Rathbun (Langston Hughes Elementary School)
2004 – Paula Barr (Hillcrest Elementary School)
2005 – Kathleen Wagner (West Junior High School)
2006 – Mary Chapman (Free State High School)
2007 – Sherry Vratil (Wakarusa Valley)
2008 – Deb Engstrom (Lawrence High School)
2009 – Paulette Breithaupt (Sunset Hill Elementary School)
2010 – Christy Kelly (Cordley Elementary School)
2011 – Renee Babin (Schwegler Elementary School)
2012 – Michael Carriger (Lawrence High School)
2013 – Ryan McAdoo (Hillcrest Elementary School)
2014 – Jordan Rose (Free State High School)
2015 – Mike Jones and Rachel Dirks (Lawrence High School)
2016 – Scott Forkenbrock (Liberty Memorial Central Middle School)
2017 – Stu Strecker (Free State High School)
2018 – Michele Duncan (Sunset Hill Elementary School)
2019 – Susan Lomshek (Schwegler Elementary School)
2020 – Kaitlin Shulman (Quail Run Elementary School)