Regional Teacher of the Year: Sara Kempker
School Building: Russellville High School
School District: Cole R-1 Russellville
Grade/Subject taught: Previously: grades 5-8 I taught everything except math. Currently: 9-12 English and Yearbook
Years teaching: 13
What is one of your goals for this year?
I want to create a more positive school experience. It is time the students at our school realize that they are being more successful.
What would make this year your Best Year Ever?
I had the Best School Year Ever last year. It will be hard to top receiving Teacher of the Year honors from both the High School Leadership Team and winning 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year. The only thing that would be better is waking up to find out I got a position at Hogwarts, and getting a raise.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I never wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a nurse. I started volunteering at my church with youth and at my children's school. Someone suggested I should become a teacher, at first I laughed, but before I knew it, I was enrolled in college to be an educator.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I always think: What am I going to do today that will leave a positive impact on tomorrow? I often tell people, I don't teach for the students. I teach for myself; I want to leave a legacy.
Describe a moment when you knew you were following your calling.
Every time I am reading to my class and I look up to see every face hanging on each word, every time the bell rings or I close my book to a chorus of, "What! You can't stop there!" I know I am doing what I was supposed to do. It brings tears of joy to my eyes to this day.
What's your favorite book and why?
My favorite book is The Giver by Lowry. I love science-fiction, and I love the thought of one person having the ability to affect change in a community.
What is something on your bucket list?
I want to learn (better) Spanish and buy a vacation home in Costa Rica.
What superpower do you wish you had?
Teleportation; I hate the amount of time it takes to travel. I want to be where I want to be without layovers and long car rides. Additionally, I could save 30 minutes one-way to work (winning).
What advice do you have for teachers?
Engage in the positive in your school. The negative will only make you miserable. Keep every positive letter you have ever gotten, and when you feel down, use them to remind yourself that you are important to someone.