When Michael Pelton, a health sciences teacher and athletic trainer for Dodge City High School, found out that he had been nominated for Teacher of the Year he was honored.
"It was really an honor to be nominated because this award is peer nominated and peer selected," Pelton said. "So it really means a lot to me that my peers see and appreciate what I do."
Pelton first found out that he was in the running for Teacher of the Year in December when he received a letter from USD 443 asking him to fill out a brief questionnaire. The district committee reviewed all the candidates and made their selection. Pelton found out at a faculty meeting about two weeks ago that he was the one selected.
Now, he has a more in-depth application to fill out and submit to the state by the end of April. In September he'll find out if he's been selected for this region of Kansas, if he is, in November he'll know if he's won Teacher of the Year.
"It's a long process," Pelton said. "But really just to have been nominated is an honor."
In his blood
Pelton never considered being anything other than a teacher. His parents and grandparents were all educators, so he grew up around it. Even his wife is in education; she teachers at Dodge City Middle School.
"It's what I knew," Pelton said. "It just seemed like a natural fit for me."
Although Pelton has been teaching for 18 years at Dodge City High School, he's originally from Ohio. He came to Dodge City in 1995 when he was offered the position he still holds today.
"I really liked the idea of the health sciences program out here," said Pelton. "We didn't have anything like that in Ohio at the time, and I wanted to be a part of it."
In Pelton's health science class, he has students for three years. In their senior year the students spend about half of their time in the classroom and half in the medical community, so they get to experience it first hand and see what it's really like.
"My students have the opportunity to 'try on' a profession before they enter the real world to make sure it's where they want to be," Pelton said. "I consider my students successful if they leave my class knowing they've found the career for them, or if they've realize it isn't a good fit. I think either way they've learned a valuable lesson."
When he's not teaching, Pelton is the athletic trainer for the district as well. He says he enjoys this position because it combines his interest in sports medicine with his love of sports.
"I am in charge of the safety and well-being of our athletes during any events," Pelton said of his position.
Page 2 of 2 - Paying it forward
"Many of my students have gone on to do big and exciting things," Pelton said. "I want to inspire each and every one of them to chase their dreams, whatever they may be."
Pelton said he often thinks back to the teachers who inspired him when he was young, and that gives him his drive and motivation to pass that along to his students.
"I want to pay that forward," he said.
The most rewarding part of Pelton's job is watching his students learn and grow. He loves to be there to see the light bulb go off in their mind when they finally get something, and to help them reach that point.
While Pelton is honored to be nominated for Teacher of the Year, he's quick to say that he doesn't deserve all the credit.
"I couldn't do anything I do without the support of the teachers, administration and the community," Pelton said. "And of course my wife."
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