With about 20 minutes left until the final bell tolled, High Point Middle School science teacher Kerry Eidson was wrapping things up before a well-deserved vacation began. Then he heard a knock on his door.
Delivering the knock was superintendent Eric Findley, telling Eidson there was to be an assembly in the next few minutes.
"That made me nervous," Eidson said. "Normally when we have assemblies at the end of the day, that means something bad has happened."
However, there was no bad news to be had that day.
After every student and teacher piled into the school's gym, Findley announced that Eidson had been selected as teacher of the year by the Missouri Association of Rural Education.
"I was really shocked," Eidson said. "There are like, 250 districts in that system, so I never thought I'd get this. It really (threw) me for a loop and I didn't know what to say."
Eidson's nomination was drafted by students, teachers and a few community members who recognized the educational talents of the Kansas native.
While Eidson has only spent seven years as a science teacher, many students have seen him in other areas of the school district.
"I was a school bus driver for High Point for about four years, so I remember a lot of the kids when they were little," Eidson said. "Then, when I went to school to be a teacher, I worked here as a paraprofessional, so some of the students remember me from that time, too."
Before taking his stand in front of the board, Eidson spent four years in the Army working as a crew chief for helicopters during the Gulf War. After leaving the military, he worked in Wichita to continue in the aviation field, but later realized "it was for the birds." It was then Eidson returned to the Show-Me state to dabble in selling concrete products.
A general love of children drew him to the education field.
"I just love the kids," he said. "I wouldn't trade them for the world. I look at them when they're here and think about how they're just starting out in their own journeys."
The method of teaching that can be experienced in his classroom doesn't rely on "questions and answers, questions and answers," Eidson said.
"I do a lot of hands-on things here," he said. "That and demonstrations. I try to apply their learning to real-world problems and remind them that there's a reason why they're learning these things."
Eidson has taught a variety of sciences, from STEM to a little physics and life science. But his favorite part of the scientific realm would have to be earth science.
"Some years, I've had the sixth grade kids go on observations," he said. "We'll walk around outside and look at different plants and bugs and sometimes even take a hike down to the pond."
As the care and attention Eidson gives his students is palpable, this exact feeling was reciprocated two years ago when his daughter, Elizabeth, passed away.
"The community was already supportive of me, but after my daughter passed, they became an even better support system. They gave me an outpouring of love, and I still really appreciate that," Eidson said.