In September, Lee, who teaches vocal music to Purdy high school and middle school students, was honored as the first Teacher of the Month for the 2012-13 school year. The teacher recognition program, sponsored by EFCO, a Pella Company, and The Monett Times, is beginning its fourth year, and Lee was recognized during a special ceremony on Oct. 4.
"Mrs. Lee's enthusiasm and love for vocal music and performance shows through in everything she does here in the Purdy School District, and it rubs off on all her students," said Purdy High School Principal Robert Vice.
In addition to a Teacher of the Month plaque, Lee also received a $250 check from EFCO representative Tina Arnall that Lee can use for her classroom.
"I want to thank EFCO and the Monett Times for honoring teachers," said Lee. "There are so many wonderful teachers in our area, and we, as a community, should be proud and show our gratitude to them. In a world that focuses on negative events, it is nice to recognize and make known the good that is in the world."
Lee, who holds a bachelor's degree in music education from Drury University in Springfield, is in her ninth year of teaching at Purdy, the only place she has ever taught. In addition to serving as the middle school and high school vocal music director, Lee also teaches high school and middle school choir and music appreciation classes as well as a sixth grade general music class.
Lee's desire to become a teacher was there as a youngster but her decision became final after she was asked to lead music for Vacation Bible School at her church during her senior year in high school.
"During that week, I knew I would be teaching music," said Lee. "As I went to college as a freshman, I never changed my mind or regretted my decision."
When asked what she enjoys most about teaching, Lee said she loves watching students succeed and take pride in themselves.
"For some that means, getting the best rating possible on his or her solo," shared Lee. "For others, it is trying something they never thought they would try, and for other students, it is watching them walk across the platform on graduation day when in the back of my mind I wasn't sure if they would make it."
Lee also enjoys watching her choir students work together to create a beautiful performance.
"For some students, choir is the only 'team' they will ever be on," said Lee. "Students need to feel success within a group, and I love to see the look on their faces when they reach that success."
Outside of the music room at school, Lee is an active member of New Site Baptist Church in Monett where she serves as a youth worker, as a member of the adult praise team and choir and as a member of the church's women's ministry.
Lee and her husband, Dustin, have two sons, Hunter, age 6, and Jackson, age 4.
Lee was nominated for Teacher of the Month by her choir accompanist Dixie Breon, who describes Lee as a devoted and caring teacher.
"She spends a lot of her own time to make preparations for music contests and performances," wrote Breon. "Even with the challenging music she chooses for the students, they work hard for her and have accomplished amazing performances. I've watched most of her students develop more confidence and a better self-esteem after being in her classes."
Lee also had high praise for Breon. "Dixie and I work so well together," said Lee. "She is so talented and more importantly she loves the students. I could not do my job and the choir would not be where it is today without her."
The Teacher of the Month program will continue through the school year. Nominations can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or a nomination form can be picked up at The Monett Times office. Forms are also available at most school offices.
Any public or private school teacher who 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 email@example.com. Nominations are currently being sought for the October Teacher of the Month award.