By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
Each year, the Salina Diocese chooses one representative for Distinguished Teacher-of-the-Year honors by the Kansas Association of Independent and Religious Schools, the state's largest organization of non-public schools.
The decision who should represent the diocese this year was so tough between two nominees administrators couldn't choose between them and went with co-winners instead.
Coincidentally, they were from the same school.
Randy Brull and Josh Peterson, teachers at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School in Hays, were honored at last week's ceremony in Topeka as the Salina Diocese's representatives for the annual award.
Brull has taught for nearly 40 years, his last three decades at either the former Marian High School or TMP-Marian, after Marian consolidated with TMP in the early 1980s. Peterson is in just his fifth year of teaching period -- all at TMP-Marian.
"You look at them, and they look so different," TMP Principal Kathy Taylor said. "But they have the same heart, the heart of a teacher, the heart of a servant.
"It's like Josh is a mini Randy; both pitch in to help wherever they're needed. They both are so quick to help not only students but fellow teachers, too."
Other winners for the honor this year were from the Diocese of Wichita and the Diocese of Dodge City, as well as representatives from Christian schools, Lutheran schools and independent schools across the state.
"It's a recognition of a lot of years teaching," Brull said. "It's nice to know they went down as good years, a nice honor."
Peterson began working at TMP while attending college in 2007, as an assistant wrestling coach for the Monarchs while he was working on his master's degree at Fort Hays State University.
By the time Peterson graduated, the school needed another math teacher, and administrators knew where to look.
KAIRS is the first big award Peterson has received in his young career.
"It's a good one to have," he said. "Very honored."
Both Brull (science) and Peterson (math) are heads of their departments and also volunteer to help with school activities.
For example, both stayed after school long into the evening last week to help at the Class 3A scholars bowl tournament hosted by TMP.
"It's not unusual to come here late at night or early in the morning," Taylor said while sitting in her school office one night last week, "and see one or both of their vehicles in the parking lot. They're definitely willing to go the extra mile."