The Kennewick teacher who entered the profession in tribute to her murdered husband's legacy is in the running for state Teacher of the Year.
Kris Mars was selected by Educational Service District 123 as the regional Teacher of the Year. The award means she is one of nine teachers competing for the state honor.
Mars, a third-grade teacher at Hawthorne, recently was profiled by the Herald when she won the Kennewick School District's Crystal Apple award.
Her husband Bob, a beloved Benton City teacher and coach, was murdered 14 years ago by two teens in a crime that shook the Tri-Cities and devastated his family.
"(Kris) Mars found the strength and grace to transform this life-altering tragedy into a passion for making a difference in the lives of students," said the announcement from ESD 123.
“Every letter of support for Ms. Mars spoke to her genuine care for each one of her students,” said Troy Tornow, ESD 123's assistant superintendent of instructional services, who led the selection process.
“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," he said.
Mars will attend a leadership retreat and undergo several interviews in the run-up to the state award ceremony.
If she wins, Mars will be in the running for the national award.