Two Missouri State University students and one alumna earned the 2023 Missouri Teacher Leaders of Tomorrow distinction by Missouri Milken Educators.
Victoria Dillon, Jessica Smith and Kira Vaughn were recognized because they are innovative educators who will positively impact the future of the profession.
They are among 10 inductees to receive the designation across the state.
All inductees will receive a year of coaching and mentorship and will have access to the Missouri Milken Educators network.
Dillon graduated in December 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in special education. She is now a special education teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary in Liberty, Missouri.
She has advanced critical thinking skills and excels at working with students of diverse backgrounds, abilities and disabilities.
“She’s an intelligent and highly motivated individual. She has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages, especially at the elementary school level,” said Marie McAdams, her university supervisor for student teaching.
“Her ability to connect with her SPED students and her talent for teaching simple concepts are superior.”
Smith will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in music education. She is currently student teaching at Weller Elementary and Central High School in Springfield.
She is meticulous in her preparation of content, pedagogical sequence and knowledge of students.
“Jessica plans and implements engaging lessons seemingly effortlessly,” said Vicky Scott, her university supervisor for student teaching. “She’s organized and self-motivated. Her sunny disposition draws students into her processes.”
Smith will teach at Bingham Elementary in Springfield in the fall.
Vaughn will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She is currently student teaching at John Thomas School of Discovery in Nixa, Missouri, as part of MSU’s Internship Academy program.
She excels as an intern because of her high student engagement, growth mindset, strong relationships with students and more.
“She’s sought out by others in the building to spend time in their classrooms,” said Sara Tipton, director of the Internship Academy program. “She’s an exceptional student teacher.”
Vaughn plans to stay in Missouri to teach in the fall.