Baldwin City, Kan. - The Baker University Student Education Association was honored last week for Outstanding Local Chapter Excellence at the National Education Association Student Program Summer Leadership Conference in Los Angeles.

Baker was the lone Kansas school to be recognized at the national event.

“I really feel honored because out of all of the colleges in Kansas we were the only one to receive it,” said Tina Wellmann, a senior from Waco, Neb., and BUSEA president in 2004-2005. “I think that says a lot about the quality of the education department and the whole education program at Baker. We may be a small private college in a town that most people haven't heard of, but we take a lot of pride in what we do, and I think that shows through this award.”

Wellmann worked closely with other BUSEA officers to meet the criteria for the award. Other BUSEA officers in 2004-2005 were Matt Clark, vice president; Janine Henry, secretary; Heather Hunninghake, treasurer; and Amy Lovell, historian.

The Baker organization has received local chapter excellence recognition at the state level seven consecutive years and twice nationally. A year ago, BU was one of four Kansas schools honored at the NEA leadership conference.

“It's thrilling to realize that BUSEA executive officers and members are receiving both state and national recognition for all their efforts,” said Peggy Harris, BUSEA sponsor and chair of BU's education department. “This competition is not divided into small- and large-school divisions. Baker is competing with much larger state universities for this recognition.

To be considered for national recognition, chapters had to submit a portfolio that demonstrated local excellence in four major areas: teacher quality, community outreach, political action, and organization and infrastructure.

“It's exciting to realize that we can provide a quality student education association worthy of national recognition with less financial and fewer people resources than many of the larger schools,” Harris said. “This honor reinforces our belief that the Baker teacher education program is a quality one, and our teacher candidates are prepared to become active and productive members of their profession.”

In April, Wellmann was elected secretary of the Kansas National Education Association Student Program.  She is the first Baker representative to be an officer for the state program.

“It was really special to know that the state was behind me,” said Wellmann, an elementary education major.

The Kansas NEA Student Program is the student affiliate of the Kansas NEA.  The program has approximately 1,700 members statewide.