2019 KAIRS Distinguished Teacher Award

Diane Eichholz

The Kansas Association of Independent and Religious Schools (KAIRS) has named Diane Eichholz, first-grade teacher at Hope Lutheran School in Shawnee, as the Distinguished Teacher 2019 for Lutheran Schools in Kansas. She was honored at the KAIRS Annual Meeting in Topeka on February 11th.

Mrs. Eichholz is a much-beloved teacher at Hope Lutheran. She has taught first grade for the past 17 years, but her tenure at the school began in 1980 when there was only a preschool. She has served as a preschool teacher, director of the preschool program and interim principal of the elementary school.

Passionate about finding ways to meet her students’ needs, Mrs. Eichholz uses a variety of teaching methods as she strives to “make things click” for their education. She searches for special programs, works one-on-one with her young students and stays after school with them when needed.

Additionally, Mrs. Eichholz has served as a mentor and a resource at her school, working regularly with student teachers and new teachers. Recently she obtained a grant to have Lexia literacy software installed at Hope Lutheran. She has also served as the Early Childhood Consultant for the Lutheran district.

“Mrs. Diane Eichholz is a dynamic and greatly admired first-grade teacher who strives to provide differentiated instruction to support the learning styles of all students, ” said Hope Lutheran Principal, Nancy Jankowski.  “She gives students learning opportunities to make them better readers, writers and problem solvers. She has a heart for teaching and shares the love of God every day in the classroom.”   

Hope Lutheran School encompasses grades Preschool through 8th and is located in Shawnee, KS.  It was established in 1983. Hope Lutheran offers all core subjects including Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies, but also Religion, Music, Computers, Spanish and Art. Students score 7% higher on state testing than all reporting schools in the state. The school is fully accredited by the state of Kansas and the National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA).

KAIRS is the state’s largest organization of non-public schools – with 140 Christian, Catholic, Independent, Lutheran and Seventh-day Adventist schools. Now in its 49th year, KAIRS represents nearly 35,000 children and is committed to excellence in education and to maintaining unity within its membership, and productive relationships with public school leadership.

Each year, KAIRS presents Distinguished Teacher awards for up to six teachers from across Kansas. This award is given to outstanding educators from KAIRS member schools. Their administrators, peers or students’ families primarily nominate the recipients. Members, comprised of principals, heads of schools and superintendents, family and friends of recipients, attend the Hall of Fame Banquet each year, where they are recognized and are permanently displayed at the KAIRS website, www.kairs.org.