Two Missouri Southern graduates were recognized as two of the 2021 Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award winners on Tuesday, March 9, during the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s spring conference.

Andrea Holderman, ‘18, a life skills and special education teacher at Webb City High School, and Lauren Kennedy, ’20, a freshman biology teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School, were among the award recipients.

The awards recognize Missouri teachers in their first two years of service who have demonstrated excellence in classrooms across Missouri. Nominations are based on recommendations from national and state education programs, as well as individual school districts.

“Every member institution that has an education program can nominate two teachers,” said Dr. Susan Craig, chair of the Teacher Education Department at MSSU. “The organization reaches out to us every two years, and we poll faculty members to see (which beginning teachers) rise to the top.”

A nomination submitted for Holderman calls her “a true asset” to Webb City High School.

“She exhibits great character, is positive, flexible and her students love her,” it reads. “Andrea is a team player, and WCHS is a better place because she is here.”

Lauren Kennedy was praised for her natural ability to connect with her students in a nomination for the recognition.

“It is evident to me that, even in our current learning environment, she has built a relationship with students that allows them to feel safe to ask questions and take risks in their learning. She is eager to learn new strategies in order to be even more effective in her teaching … and her students feel very supported.”