"Every child has a right to learn something new every day."
That philosophy has guided Ann Adrian's career in education. She believes every child should be challenged in the classroom and encouraged to succeed. Her advocacy for and years spent working in the field of gifted education have earned her a 2014 "Woman of the Year" award.
"Ann believes that children need to be encouraged and supported in order to do their best, and those at the top of their class deserve that just as much as those at the base or in the middle," said nominator Sharon Cranston, a fellow educator and past "Woman of the Year" winner. "The energy she has expended is what sets her apart from other women in education."
Adrian said her family instilled in her the values of education at an early age. Her mother was even a graduate of the Washburn Law School in 1940.
"It's just a part of me," she said. "Education is just a definite thing that I feel is worth pursuing."
She graduated from Washburn University, taught in Topeka while her husband went to law school, and moved to Newton in 1972. She began working on a master's at Wichita State University and developed a passion for working with gifted students, whose educational needs are sometimes overlooked. She later served as the coordinator of the extended learning program at USD 373.
She has served as a leader in the state gifted organization and has been honored as a gifted education advocate. She worked on the Kansas Department of Education Task Force to publish "Effective Practices for Gifted Education in Kansas" in 2001.
"I got to observe up close and personal the energy and dedication she put forth on behalf of the gifted services in our school district," said Sherri Rawlins, who met Adrian in the 1980s through Newton public schools. "... Ms. Adrian is committed to assuring that all gifted children were recognized for their gifts and talents, researching new models of gifted education and bringing that knowledge to her work in USD 373."
After Adrian retired from Newton, she continued as a consultant across the state, including helping redesign Dodge City's gifted education services. This year she is back in Newton working part time as a consultant in gifted education services for the Harvey County Special Education Coop.
She also has been involved with Trinity Heights United Methodist Church, Girl Scouts and the Women's Community Fund. She is a new member of the library board and an advocate for the library's long-time dream of constructing a new building.
"The library can be so much for the community," she said. "It can be a hub. It's the heart of education."
She said she is honored to be a recipient of one of this year's "Woman of the Year" awards and to join the group of women honored throughout the award's history.
"They model a fantastic community spirit in their own unique ways, and it was nice to be part of that," she said.