“Passion without compassion is directionless energy,” said Greg Kester. His passion for teaching and compassion for students have landed him Missouri’s 2024 Teacher of the Year award. He becomes the state’s 55th teacher to take the top educator honor.

Kester is a social studies teacher with Potosi R-III School District. He has served at the eastern Missouri high school his entire teaching career.

Kester said he hopes to instill in the next generation of teachers not just the passion for educating people, but also compassion for the student.

“Relationships are my greatest accomplishments as an educator,” Kester said in a news release announcing the award. “I would gladly give back all of the accolades and awards I have won if I had to choose between them or the connection I have with my present and former students.”

Kester has served as a department chair, cadet teaching coordinator, and faculty sponsor for the Future Teachers of America club, in addition to his role as a classroom teacher.

“Missouri is fortunate to have so many passionate, dedicated educators, and Greg is a wonderful example of the best of our teacher workforce,” said State Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven. “Greg is a shining example of how we can work to grow the next generation of teachers in our schools today. His work creating a teacher training program for his students stands as an example of how important it is to talk about the art of teaching and the joy this incredible profession is able to bring to those called to it.”

The selection process began with 34 Regional Teachers of the Year, then narrowed down to 17 semifinalists, and eventually seven finalists. Kester was the only finalist who is a social studies teacher.

The winner, finalists, semi-finalists, and Regional Teachers of the Year will be honored during a recognition event next month.

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