Two Southeast Missouri State University alumnae were recognized March 27 as Missouri Outstanding Beginning Teachers at the spring conference of the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE).
Chasity Papenberg, a Waterloo, Illinois native, and a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Central Middle School in Cape Girardeau, and Kylie Zurek Downie of Rock Falls, Illinois, a fourth-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Sterling, Illinois, both December 2016 Southeast graduates, were honored.
“As long as I can remember I always wanted to be a teacher,” Papenberg said. “After four years of hard work and dedication, my dream finally became a reality this past year. My first year of teaching has been everything I dreamed of and more. Receiving this award today reminds me of why I chose this amazing profession and inspires me to continue making a difference in the lives of children for many years to come.”
Papenberg says she appreciates the College of Education, Health and Human Studies for nominating her for the award and supporting her throughout her education at Southeast. She graduated in spring 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, middle school education, language arts content.
“I would not be the teacher I am today without them,” she said. “Ever since I have graduated, the professors have continued to check in on me and help me become a better teacher. I am looking forward to becoming a student again this summer when I start my master’s degree in elementary education to become a Reading Specialist.”
Downie said she was shocked and honored to learn she had been named a Missouri Outstanding Beginning Teacher.
“I know there are incredible educators that I graduated with and those that graduated in the classes after me, so I feel very blessed to receive this award,” she said. “It truly shows what an impact you have not only on those you influence every single day in the classroom but also those during your years of college education. It motivates me to be an even better teacher and educator than I already am and to push myself to take more risks in the classroom to benefit my students.”
Downie says she has found teaching to be rewarding.
“It has humbled me in so many ways and taught me to always do my best because you may never know who is learning from you or who it (your work) has an effect on,” she said. “I am so thankful for my education at SEMO because it has made me the teacher I am each and every day in my classroom for my fourth graders.”
The Outstanding Beginning Teacher Awards recognize teachers in their first two years of service who demonstrate excellence in serving children in school districts across Missouri. Sixty-seven of the approximately 8,000 teachers who were certified in the last two years received engraved glass apples for their dedication and service to Missouri’s schools and communities. Award recipients were selected based on recommendations from Missouri’s state and nationally recognized teacher education programs and a recommendation from candidates’ school districts.
The ceremony was held at the Courtyard by Marriott Conference Center in Columbia, Missouri, and was hosted by MACTE President Dr. Beth Kania-Gosche and Past-President and Southeast Dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Studies Dr. Diana Rogers-Adkinson, as well as members of the MACTE Executive Board. MACTE recognizes the contribution of these extraordinary teachers, as well as all of the association’s excellent, highly qualified teachers throughout Missouri who serve and educate students.
The Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a state affiliate of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and represents the educator preparation programs across the state.