PAOLA — Misty Pratt will never forget the way her second-grade teacher cared for her and her classmates.
It was that emotional support at a young age that first inspired Pratt to pursue a career in education herself. Once she became a teacher, Pratt prioritized that level of caring for her students above everything else.
It’s something she became known for at Holy Trinity School in Paola and for the last five years at Paola Middle School, where she teaches eighth grade communications and journalism.
Her colleagues have noticed Pratt’s compassion for her students, which is why several of them recently mentioned her commitment of caring in nomination letters for Paola USD 368’s Secondary Teacher of the Year.
In October, Pratt was surprised when Principal Mark Bloustine and Superintendent Matt Meek came into her classroom to announce that she had won the award.
“It was a great honor,” Pratt said.
She added that it really sank in when she saw the reactions of her daughters, Rylee, who is a freshman at the University of Saint Mary, and Ashlyn, who is a freshman at Paola High School.
“Seeing my girls proud of me made it even more sweet,” she said.
In the classroom, Pratt said she likes to utilize a variety of teaching strategies to keep things interesting for her students. That includes a mix of hands-on lessons and standard worksheets.
One of her favorite topics to teach is Anne Frank, and she thinks her students most enjoy reading “The Outsiders,” which they are doing now.
Now that she is a district winner, Pratt is eligible to become a regional teacher of the year winner. Regional finalists will be honored during a recognition ceremony in March 2022, and the state ceremony is set for September 2022 in Wichita.
Pratt said she feels like a winner every day she gets to come to school and do the job she loves.
“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Pratt said.