Last week, it was announced that Calhoun won the teaching recognition for the month of December during an assembly at Monett Elementary School. Calhoun, who teaches second grade, was surprised by the honor, and her students were visibly thrilled to watch as she received a special plaque and a check for $250 that come with the award.
""Misty is a great team player and challenges all second grade teachers to challenge themselves and the status quo," wrote Brenda Sims in the letter she submitted on Calhoun's behalf. "She has inspired me to work harder . . . and she challenges all her students to reach their highest potential. She instills in her students that good is okay but great is even better.
"Misty works many hours to make sure that her students get the best education that they can get," added Sims, who serves as a special education teacher at Monett Elementary.
Calhoun's path to the field of education came about when she began substituting in the Monett R-1 School District after her husband, Michael, joined the Monett faculty as a teacher and coach.
"I found that I really enjoyed working with the students," said Calhoun. "I later accepted a position in the special services department as a teacher's assistant."
Calhoun's newfound passion inspired her to pursue her teaching cerficate at Missouri State University. She already held a bachelor of science degree in administration and psychology from the College of the Ozarks, and ultimately, continued her education at MSU and completed her master of science degree in education.
Calhoun was hired as a second grade teacher and is currently enjoying her fifth year at Monett Elementary.
Puzzles are another passion for Calhoun, and she says one of the most complex puzzles she loves to solve is trying to find the best way to reach a student who does not respond to traditional teaching methods.
"The joy on a student's face who previously felt incapable and now realizes their potential is amazing," said Calhoun.
Helping students find their "inner nerd" is another aspect of teaching that Calhoun enjoys.
"In my class, I teach each student that everyone is a nerd at something," explains Calhoun. "It may not be the same as the student next to them but I tell them their success in life means trying their best at everything and finding job in that area that they are a 'nerd' in. They love trying to figure out what they are really good at.
"Very few people are good at everything, and I think it is important to let students know that it is okay if they have to work harder in some areas than others," continued Calhoun.
In addition to her classroom teaching duties, Calhoun voluntarily serves on the MES Positive Behavior in School (PBiS) leadership team and as a campus representative on the Monett Community Teachers Association Advisory Board for the R-1 District.
Calhoun loves to spend time with her family and is an avid Monett Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. She and her husband, Michael, who happens to be the high school baseball coach, have two children, Caitilyn and Christopher.
Winning the Teacher of the Year Award took Calhoun by surprise, and she said she was honored to earn the award.
"It is rather humbling that anyone finds my teaching special, because I work with so many amazing teachers who lead by example every day with their devotion and love for students," said Calhoun.
When asked how she planned to spend the $250 that came with the teaching award, Calhoun said she let her students vote and the money will go toward new recess equipment, books to read and an iTunes card so new apps can be loaded onto the classroom iPad.
Any public or private school teacher that teaches kindergarten through 12th grade in Monett, Purdy, Verona, Pierce City or Freistatt is eligible for the award. Nominations can be made by students, parents or fellow educators.
For more information about the program or the nomination process, email firstname.lastname@example.org.