"I was very surprised," said Gates. "I went to school at Cassville and so many of the teachers who have been recognized in this category have inspired me. To be honored by your peers in this manner is very humbling."
As an alumni of the Cassville High School Class of 1999 and a current Cassville teacher, Gates has dedicated much more than eight years of teaching to the R-4 District. She has served as a member of the district's professional development committee, and acted as a mentor coach for new faculty members.
Gates has also served on the superintendent's advisory board and is a member of Cassville's Possible Behavior System (PBS) committee and the Missouri State Teachers Association.
"I am now an eMINTS teacher," said Gates. "The intermediate school is an eMINTS school. All of the third and fourth grade teachers went through the training for the program, which promotes technology based classrooms."
Along with other members of the intermediate school staff, Gates completed over 200 hours of professional development training to become eMINTS certified.
Gates is also a past president of CCTA and has served on numerous committees throughout the district.
Even though she chooses to be very active at the Cassville School District, Gates third grade students retain her loyalty.
"I've always been in the third grade," said Gates. "Third grade kids are great. They still love school, and they are still excited about learning."
Gates has served as a third grade teacher at Cassville since she earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education at Drury University in Springfield.
"School was a great experience for me and I had some great teachers who were very inspiring," said Gates.
"I love learning," said Gates, "and I love to work with kids. It is fun to experience learning with them. I have learned a lot from my students and the questions that they come up with."
At one time, Gates thought she would likely teach in another community, but after marrying her husband, Justin, the two of them decided Cassville would be their home.
"Justin got a job here, and there was an opening here in the fall after I graduated from college," said Gates. "We love being here. We couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
"Cassville is an amazing district to work for," said Gates, "and this is a very supportive community. The administration also really wants the best for all of the students and teachers in the district, and we all work well together."
Gates also does her very best to serve the needs of each of her students. She finds inspiration through one of her favorite quotes by Marva Collins.
"There is a bright child locked inside every student," quoted Gates. "When I read that quote I thought, 'that is what I think.'
"Not all students learn the same way and not all students are excited about the same things, but my goal is to help them find what they like," said Gates. "I want to peek their curiosity and provoke questions from them. I want them to have a true learning experience inside and outside the classroom."
Gates is currently working on a master's degree in education administration through Southwest Baptist University. She lives in Cassville with her husband, Justin, and their son, Simon.