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News Release
Kris Mars
Kris Mars
MEDIA ALERT - Kennewick's Kris Mars Named Regional Teacher of the Year (Photo) - 06/07/18

KENNEWICK, WA – Educational Service District (ESD) 123 is proud to announce the selection of Kristine (Kris) Mars as the Regional Teacher of the Year.  Currently serving as a third grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in Kennewick, Ms. Mars’ story is one of resilience in the face of tragedy and a career that is much more than a profession.  As the regional recipient, Ms. Mars now moves on to compete against finalists from Washington’s eight other ESDs in hopes of being named as the 2019 State Teacher of the Year.

Commonly described as “the type of teacher every child deserves,” Ms. Mars is a beacon of inspiration to her peers, administration, and students.  Her decision to pursue a career in education was motivated by the tragic loss of her late husband, Bob Mars, who was killed during his time as a teacher and coach.  Ms. Mars found the strength and grace to transform this life-altering tragedy into a passion for making a difference in the lives of students. 

In her classroom at Hawthorne Elementary, Ms. Mars utilizes innovative strategies to engage and educate from a whole child approach.  Parents and peers will attest that Ms. Mars goes well beyond simply covering the curriculum.  She creates a magical, inspiring environment for her students that nurtures critical thinking and leadership.  Her classroom is one filled with music, movement, and a belief that all students can and will succeed.

ESD 123 Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services, Mr. Troy Tornow, led the selection process for identifying the recipient of Southeast Washington’s Regional Teacher of the Year.

“Every letter of support for Ms. Mars spoke to her genuine care for each one of her students,” says Mr. Tornow.  “She is someone who not only persevered through great adversity, but continues to keep her eye on the prize to make a lasting impact on the lives of each one of her students.  Her passion to do what is right is beyond inspiring.”

As the Regional Teacher of the Year, Ms. Mars will attend a long weekend of interviews, a leadership retreat, and an awards ceremony, all organized by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), which operates the State Teacher of the Year program.  Should Ms. Mars be selected as Washington State’s Teacher of the Year recipient, she will have the opportunity to compete for the national title.

For more information, contact Molly Curtiss, ESD 123 Director of Communications, at 509.544.5787 or">


About ESD 123:  Educational Service District 123, based in Pasco, WA, is one of nine ESDs in Washington. Dedicated to delivering collaborative solutions that promote learning, ESD 123 serves 23 school districts in seven counties of Southeastern Washington. Under Superintendent Darcy Weisner and its board of directors, this legislatively mandated, not-for-profit educational organization provides efficiency of educational systems and equity of learning opportunities for over 70,000 Washington students. For more information about ESD 123, please call 509-544-5700 or 888-547-8441 or visit

Attached Media Files: Kris Mars
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