Instead of focusing on a numerical grade, McKenzie Lueders centers her Chemistry exams on the application of concepts.

Her educational technique and unique grading process has allowed her students to replace the fear of failure with the freedom to learn.

Recently, it also earned her a spot as one of the Top Ten 2017 Claes Nobel Educators of the Year.

"McKenzie continually challenges herself and her colleagues across the entire school to make sure we are providing the absolute best high school experience possible for our students," Dodge City High School Principal Jacque Feist said. "She has tremendous pride in our community and in our school – which oozes into everything she does."

Claes Nobel, senior member of the family that established the Nobel Prize and Chairman of The National Society of High School Scholars, announced the Claes Nobel Educators of the Year on Dec. 2 at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta.

The Educator of the Year award recognizes ten exemplary educators who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to preparing students for success.

"This is an amazing and unique honor because the nomination came from a student and I think all teachers have days and moments where they wonder if they’re making an impact on students," Lueders said. "My students lead busy lives.

"They go home with homework, many of them participate in athletics or clubs after school, they work jobs, and they take care of siblings, just to name a few of their responsibilities.

"The fact that amongst all of this, a student took the time to nominate me for such an honor was humbling.

The fact that I was selected as a finalist was, and still is, surreal."

The student who nominated Lueders called her ‘a dedicated and hardworking teacher and mother who deserves to be recognized for being such a positive impact in the lives of many.’

"I had the privilege of having her as my chemistry teacher," the student added. "And she is, by far, the best teacher I have ever had."

Lueders was born and raised in Dodge City.

She started teaching in the fall of 2009 and also serves as the cheerleading coach and a PLC facilitator.

Lueders comes from a family of teachers, beginning with her grandmother, who started her career in a one-room schoolhouse in Oklahoma and taught for 45 years.

Her mother is also a teacher and Lueders teaches in the same building as her husband, brother, and sister-in-law.

The top Educator of the Year is Joyce Kim, Honors English Teacher from Illinois.