Kansas City, April 12, 2019: In her lifetime, Diane Mora has gone from being told by a school counselor that she would only be good at doing jobs that require repetitive motion, to being named the 2019 Teacher of the Year for Kansas City Public Schools.
Ms. Mora teaches English and literacy to East High School students with limited proficiency in English. Her selection as the 2019 KCPS Teacher of the Year was announced during a ceremony Thursday evening, April 11 at Drexel Hall in Kansas City, Mo.
In her remarks after accepting the award, Mora referenced her own past as the child of a Latino father and being undervalued by people in authority. Those experience helped fire her passion for public education, and particularly for serving refugee and immigrant children.
“I teach because any acronym for students that includes the word ‘limited,’ as does the federal acronym ‘LEP’ for ‘Limited English Proficiency,’ must be disproved and removed from education vocabulary,” Mora said in her speech. “No student’s story should ever contain the word ‘limited.’”
Mora was raised in Kansas City. At age 38, she became the first member of her family to earn a college degree, getting her bachelor’s in business management from Ottawa University in Overland Park, Kans. She went on to earn two master’s degrees.
Her professional experience includes a term as an ESL instructor for the Department of Workforce Development in Kansas, and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education ELL Instructional Specialist and University of Missouri-Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center Senior Educational Program Coordinator. She joined the faculty at East High School in 2016.
While at East High School, Mora has set a standard for helping students quickly master English and literacy content no matter where they started in that process when they entered her class. Students are challenged with hands-on research projects and writing tasks that help them express their views and experiences.
Mora also developed an innovative partnership with PrepKC that provides students with an opportunity to present and talk about their writing with communications experts from around the region. She also led an initiative to have students from East High School and Liberty North High School visit with each other.
As the 2019 Teacher of the Year Award recipient, Mora will receive a $5,000 check from the KCPS Education Foundation, a personal trophy, a traveling trophy for the school, a customized ring and her name on a permanent plaque at the school district’s central office. Teacher of the Year runners-up Jon Dunn of Trailwoods Elementary School and Kathy Genson of Wendell Phillips Elementary School will each receive a $1,000 instructional grant from the foundation and an individual trophy.
In addition to the Teacher of the Year announcement, Wendell Phillips Elementary School Principal Deloris Brown was recognized as the 2019 KCPS Principal of the Year during the April 11 celebration. Ms. Brown was selected by the Division of Academics based on her sustained ability to address the individual academic, social and emotional needs of her students. Phillips Elementary School is consistently one of the best performing neighborhood schools within KCPS based on Missouri’s Annual Progress Report results.
The Teacher of the Year Celebration is an annual awards banquet that started in 2017 and is made possible through the generous sponsorship of the Kansas City Public Schools Education Foundation. As the 2019 KCPS Teacher of the Year Award recipient, Ms. Mora will go on to represent the school district for the state-level recognition.
The major purpose of the KCPS Teacher of the Year program is to recognize the contributions of the classroom teacher. The mission of the KCPS Teacher of the Year Program is to honor, promote and celebrate excellence in the teaching profession in alignment with state and national recognitions.