• Recent Recognitions

  • The Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce Education Committee has long recognized the contributions great teachers make in the lives of our youth and fostering of future leaders in our communities, state and nation. Most successful people would say they have been profoundly influenced by the care, dedication, wisdom and enthusiasm of one or more teachers in their lives. It is for this reason that the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce annually recognizes teachers who exemplify the highest standards of the teaching profession through our Gold STAR Teacher of the Year Awards.

    These awards are presented annually to teachers within the Neosho School District, Crowder College and area Private Schools. The most recent award recipients are pictured below and nominations are accepted until mid April for this year's honorees. Nominate an educator to be honored this year by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

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    2020 Gold STAR Teacher - Pre-School/Kindergarten 

    Tiffany Hoerning - Field Early Childhood Center

    Tiffany goes above and beyond to learn about new teaching techniques. She is excellent with innovative ideas for helping the special needs students who are integrated into her classroom. She is also very supportive of the building staff and always available to help when new strategies are needed.

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    2020 Gold STAR Teacher - Elementary School 

    Cassie Carnahan, Benton Elementary  

    Cassie goes above and beyond to give her students the best she can offer. Over the course of this school year I know she has worked to bring live music into Benton for her students to experience including a cello performance by Christian Serrano-Torres whom she saw as having a connection as a fellow immigrant to her immigrant (and native) students allowing them to see the potential of a life in music. She has gone to length to bring Latin Grammy-winning music duo 123 Andrés to Neosho in April. Not only is this group coming to perform for her school but also the whole community at a free community concert because of her efforts plus an entire evening of multi-language learning and fun has grown around the event. Cassie puts in the overtime to write grants to get instruments for her students to experiment with, exposes them to a variety of musical styles, and is a supporters of the arts in our community.

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    2020 Gold STAR Teacher - Middle School 

    Diana Anderson, Neosho Middle School

    Dianna is a devoted teacher. She works tireless for the betterment of her students. Mrs. Anderson can be found working in her classroom and with fellow teachers until all hours of the night and all year long. 

    Any time a student asks for a club or intramural activity to be formed, Anderson jumps on board. Currently she is sponsoring an after school girls club where girls from around the building can come talk about feelings, work on crafts, do book studies, and meet other girls. Also she does an afterschool games intramural, where students get to exercise and socialize with kids from across the building. Another day of the week, she tutors until 5 o'clock so students who need extra practice have one on one time and working parents can more easily be able to pick up their student. Clearly Dianna is working to better the students all around.

    When opportunities arise, Dianna is quick to join in and take off running. The middle school has worked to develop more PBLs. Last year Dianna worked closely with her students and co teachers to collect pop tabs and raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of the 4 States. Students were able to visit the Ronald McDonald House twice, and meet community members who had used the Ronald McDonald House. Dianna did a great job of listening to students ideas and turning them into learning opportunities. This is just one example of her willingness to jump in and being willing to try something that she knows is a great learning opportunity for her students.

    Overall, Dianna Anderson is a vital part of the middle school. She builds lifelong relationships with students and families, is always trying new things in her classroom to keep things exciting, and works well with her colleagues for the betterment of all students.

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    2020 Gold STAR Teacher - Junior High 

    Brooke Gariss - Neosho J‚Äčunior High


    Encouraging and inspiring, she helps all of her students to become great singers. She often helps pay for student lunches and music for field trips/competitions.

    Mrs Gariss is one of my favorite teachers because she goes above and beyond to make sure we are happy and we don’t feel left out. She loves us like we are her own kids and nothing less than that but when we do something wrong we don’t get away with it which is how it is supposed to be.

    Mrs. G is so kind and thoughtful, and she pushes us to be the best we can be. She loves us so much, and all her students love her back. She has made a huge impact in my life this year, and I want her to continue to do that for years to come.

    Mrs. Garris is not only a fantastic woman. She is an absolute role model. She has inspired me to try to follow a dancing career. I am so happy that she is here. This world needs more people like her. Without her I wouldn't be half the amazing singer or dancer I am or want to be.

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    2020 Gold STAR Teacher - High School

    Ryan Sheffield - Director Jefferson St. Campus 


    Ryan really impressed me with his handling of students at the Jefferson Street Campus this past fall while I was doing a sidewalk chalk art demo. In an alternative learning environment he managed that fine balance of leadership, discipline, and humor that is so needed alongside a varied education. I'd never demoed to a more engaged group (and especially for their age who normally just pretend to not pay attention). I know their focus stems from Ryan's guidance. After my demo/talk students were allowed to try their hand at chalk art. When one student (among many asking) asked for more time to work on their piece Ryan agreed. I learned that the student had been missing class and owed back homework. Instead of forcing them inside do the homework he saw the student had really connected with the art and was diligently working on their creation. He spoke to the student about how they would still need to complete the work but so long as they were creating they could stay. That student ended up shyly entering the Neosho Arts Council Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest at the Fall Festival. They have a talent for art and Ryan didn't stomp on that. 

    His focus on showing students gardening (and how to cook what you grow) is giving his students valuable life skills. Students helped plant a garden in the spring and over summer break it was Ryan who came and made sure it was watered and harvested and alive when students returned in the fall to take up the job again. 

    His focus on showing students community service and giving of time is something that goes beyond the textbook. 

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    2020 Gold STAR Teacher - Crowder College

    Terry Clarkson

    Accepting the award on Terry's behalf was his daughter and son, Cheyenne Clarkson and Ray Hailey. Sentiments received in the nomination process from co-workers and past students illustrated what a wonderful man that Terry was. He passed away in April of this year after a sudden illness.

    "Terry worked hard in all the things he did and was well liked by his students and by his colleagues. Students always felt seen and heard when they were being instructed by Terry and they appreciated his soft-spoken leadership and his experience. Terry Clarkson was the human embodiment of Servant Leadership."

    "Terry Clarkson's gift was his true compassion for others. He also learned names fast, and he used them. Mr. Clarkson would look his students in the eye, often shake their hands, and genuinely greet them by name. He clearly cared and when a teacher cares, students excel. Terry's positive attitude brightened the days of his coworkers and friends as well."

    “How you make others feel, says a lot about you.” Terry made every single student, staff, and person he came in contact with feel important, cared about, loved, and a genuine JOY for life. Terry was a mentor for his students, but also for his coworkers."

  • Nominate your favorite business or teacher below.