JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A third-grade teacher in suburban Kansas City has been picked as the Missouri Teacher of the Year.
Kristen Merrell automatically becomes Missouri's nominee for the National Teacher of the Year program.
Merrell has taught at Lee's Summit Elementary School since 2004 and has a lifelong interest in teaching. As a child, she set up classrooms full of stuffed animals and pretended to teach them. She tutored classmates in high school.
Merrell wrote in her application for the award that her goal is "a young life transformed and influenced by a teacher who took the time to care."
Missouri's teacher of the year is selected by a panel that includes administrators, teachers and parents.