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Willard Teachers Take Pride in First 'Teacher of the Year' Awards

Willard Teachers Take Pride in First ‘Teacher of the Year’ Awards

By Canton Post (Willard High School Journalism Student)

Even as our district continues to navigate online learning, the real heroes ensure that each of their students gains the most out of this invisible quarter. Willard sees the hard work their teachers put into their career and their classroom and acknowledged many in the district’s first-ever Teacher of the Year Award. 

In March, many teachers in the Willard School district were nominated by their colleagues to be named Teacher of the Year in their building. Seventh-grade English teacher John Post was announced as District Teacher of the Year April 17. 

District Teacher of the Year 

Seventh-grade English teacher John Post said he’s completely floored that he won the District Teacher of the Year.

“I think about being in the high school gym on the first day of school with all of the teachers in our district,” Post said. “Our district is full of the most incredible and caring teachers, and the fact that I would be chosen among some of the best is truly humbling...and flattering.”

Post said there are parts of him that feel very undeserving of this award.

“It is nearly impossible to select one quote-on-quote teacher of the year when we have literally hundreds of teachers of the year in our district,” Post said.

Post said education is important because teachers have the opportunity to positively impact their students’ lives in many different ways.

“We, as teachers, help prepare kids for the real-world and help kids to become leaders, as they are the ones that will eventually be running the show,” Post said.

Post said his classroom mission is to instill hope in every student.

“It’s very important to me that my students understand that no matter their circumstance, they can be successful in the classroom and in life,” Post said.

Post said that he shows kids that they’re loved and that he believes in them.

“After 23 years in the Willard District, I still go into each day with a goal to push my students to be their best, while trying to be an example of how to love others well,” Post said.

Post said he remembers his father always saying, “Leave it better than you found it.” This saying is displayed every year in Post’s classroom.

“I will consider my career successful if each student is a little bit better for having had me as a teacher,” Post said. “I know I’m better for knowing them.”


Other Nominees 

First-grade teacher Lori Sevon said she feels very honored to have received the nomination at Willard North Elementary this year. She said she believes that each of her colleagues deserves a similar award.

“I see daily how each educator in my building pours their heart into their students and to our school,” Sevon said. “I work with the best of the best at Willard North and we are all better teachers because of one another.”

Sevon said education is important to her because it helps her students best prepare for their future.

“Education gives kids knowledge about the world around them and it prepares them to go into the world and make their own mark,” Sevon said.

Sevon said being a “primary teacher” gives her the opportunity to provide students with these positive early learning experiences, which she still believes to be important after 26 years of teaching.

“Learning needs to be innovative, fun, and rewarding for kids,” Sevon said. “My number one mission as a teacher is to foster a lifelong love of learning in my students.”

Sevon said another goal of hers is to show each child how special they are. She wants her students to know how important they are as an individual and take delight in their unique attributes they bring to the first-grade classroom.

“When I reflect on what I’ve accomplished in my career, the thing that comes to mind is relationship building,” Sevon said.

Sevon said she simply loves people, including her co-workers and her students as if they were her own kids.

“It makes my heart happy when former students come back to visit me,” Sevon said. “When students leave my class, I want them to know that they were and are ‘one of my kids’ and I will always be their biggest fan!”

Library Media Specialist David Stockton said receiving this award at Willard Intermediate South was an honor and he feels grateful just to be nominated for District Teacher of the Year.

“It humbles me to think that my staff, the awesome teachers in my building, nominated me for this award,” Stockton said. “There are many fantastic teachers who work for Willard schools, and many wonderful teachers who have won this award for their building.”

Stockton said he utilizes “soft skills” in his teaching, which includes social, listening, and speaking skills; it also employs empathy, critical thinking, and leadership.

“I am proud to be part of a district that recognizes the importance of teaching these skills through the Leader in Me program,” Stockton said. “This initiative is truly transformative to the lives of our students.”

Stockton said education is crucial because it provides the opportunity for students to become better people, helps children develop perspectives, and aids kids in building their own opinions.

“Education not only leads to a career but to a more enriching life,” Stockton said. “Throughout our lives, we will be engaged in some form of education or training for whatever career path that we decide to take. A growth mindset is essential.”

Stockton said libraries, whether it be academic, school, or public libraries, have an important role to play in a child’s education process.

“It is vital for students to be able to recognize when they have a learning deficit and know how and where to seek information or training they need,” Stockton said. “It is the function of libraries and librarians to meet these needs.”

Stockton said he has been a library specialist for many years, and he has learned to adapt to the many changes schools and society throw his way. Change no longer bothers him.

“In order to thrive, I developed an attitude of exploring change with enthusiasm,” Stockton said. “I made choices to seek training and educational opportunities to help me meet new challenges in teaching. I’m always pushing myself to continue learning and taking risks that move me forward.”

Stockton said his mission has always been to connect with his students through compassion.

“Students need to feel that we care about them; therefore, they need us to be more understanding and less judgemental,” Stockton said. “I want my students to have positive connections to libraries and to reading.”

Stockton not only accomplishes his missions through the library during the school day but also invests his time in other extracurricular activities. He sponsors various after-school clubs like Reading Club and Breakfast and Books Club, produces and publishes the weekly news show “WIS News,” and serves as the Digital Media coordinator for all of Willard Intermediate South.

“Lately, I have shifted my focus to help other teachers and librarians by presenting at in-services and conferences,” Stockton said. “I collaborate with classroom teachers to integrate STEAM with the content curriculum and was a featured presenter for STAR Summit and MASL (Missouri Association of School Librarians).”


The Willard High School Journalism Program would also like to congratulate the other Teacher of the Year Award winners. These winners include Alyssa Sorensen (Kindergarten teacher at Willard South), Ashley Perryman (school counselor at Willard Orchard Hills), Amy Smith (First-grade teacher at Willard East), Krista Mellow (Art teacher at Willard Central), Malynne Atkinson (Fifth-grade teacher at Willard Intermediate-North), and Chelsea Russell-Ice (English teacher at Willard High School).