2022 KU seniors honor high school teachers with Wolfe Teaching Excellence Awards

LAWRENCE — Three outstanding high school teachers will be recognized with the Wolfe Teaching Excellence Award this graduation season.

“For those in the teaching profession, perhaps the highest honor that can be bestowed is to have former students recognize the impact great teachers had on their lives,” said Rick Ginsberg, dean of the School of Education & Human Sciences. “The Wolfe Teaching Excellence Award does just that, arguably the most valuable evaluation any classroom teacher will ever experience.”

Nominations are submitted by KU seniors. Students from any major can nominate their former teachers, and the winners can be high school teachers from anywhere in the world. The 2022 award recipients are:

  • Karen Stohlmann Henderson, Blue Valley Northwest High School
  • Kester L. Horn-Marsh, Kansas School for the Deaf
  • Sarah Koehn, Andover High School

Henderson was nominated by Darene Essa, a senior in mechanical engineering at KU. Essa took Henderson’s Honors Principles of Engineering and AP Calculus classes, in addition to being a member of the first cohort of the Femineers program led by Henderson. In the nomination, Essa wrote: “Getting to know Ms. Stohlmann as a teacher and as a mentor has taught me a lot about the sacrifices she makes as she develops a career she loves. It is no exaggeration to say that a dedicated teacher can change a student’s life. For me, Ms. Stohlmann is that inspirational teacher who consistently went above and beyond in offering support to me and my fellow peers.”

Horn-Marsh was nominated by Nathan Shayan Jalali, a senior with majors in both deaf studies and psychology at KU. Jalali took Horn-Marsh’s 9th English class and a creative writing course. Jalali specifically wrote: “My love for American Sign Language started with Kester. And for the rest of my life, I will be forever grateful for his inspiration and encouragement for me to get involved with the Deaf community and embrace who I am.”

Koehn was nominated by Paul Turner, a senior in environmental studies at KU, who took Koehn’s theatre classes and worked alongside her on school theatre productions. In his nomination, Turner wrote: “Ms. Koehn is also an incredible leader, and a mentor to generations of students. Her leadership and mentorship abilities started with the respect and esteem she had for her students. She saw potential in everyone.”

Recipients each receive a cash award of $3,000, and their respective high schools each receive $1,000. The award winners were selected from a large pool of outstanding nominees by a committee of faculty, administrators and students from KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Education & Human Sciences.

The award recipients are honored during commencement weekend at the KU School of Education & Human Sciences convocation ceremony, along with a dinner held in their honor. Award recipients will receive a plaque in honor of their accomplishment. 

The Wolfe Teaching Excellence Award was created in 2006 with a $250,000 gift from R. Dean Wolfe, business administration, ’66, and juris doctorate, ’69, and Cheryl L. Wolfe, Spanish education, ’69, Clayton, Missouri, through the Wolfe Family Foundation. The award fund is managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.