An Independence teacher was treated like royalty this week, walking on Target Field in Minneapolis and being cheered by approximately 41,000 people.
Megan Coone, a fourth grade teacher at William Southern Elementary Schoo in the Independence districtl, was selected as an All-Star Teacher and represented the Kansas City Royals at the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Minneapolis Tuesday. Thirty current or retired educators across North America, including Coone, represented all of the Major League teams and were honored in a pregame ceremony for making a difference in their community or in a student’s life. All of them were chosen as winners of the Target Presents People All-Star Teachers contest.
“Before we started, someone said this is for you; take it and enjoy it,” said Coone. “I was shaking out there. Just to be on that field with the other 29 teachers was amazing.”
Not only did Coone participate in a pre-game ceremony, but in other All-Star Game festivities as well. She said she was part of the All-Star Parade, riding in a trolley with Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's wife, who used to be an educator herself. Plus she stayed at the same hotel as the All-Star players and even got to watch both the Home Run Derby and game in a luxury suite.
“Cal Ripken Junior came to meet all of the teachers, too,” she said. “I talked to him a bit. A very nice guy.”
How Coone became an All-Star teacher started with a nomination by her husband, Al. In May, he received an email from MLB informing him about a campaign sponsored by the Target Corporation and People Magazine searching for teachers throughout the continent to be recognized at the 2014 All-Star Game.
“I nominated her because how hard she works as an educator,” Al said about his wife. “It’s the sacrifices that she makes for her students and profession.”
Al said he honestly didn’t realize how extravagant the recognition of being an All-Star Teacher would be.
“I just thought her name might get published or recognized in an article. The whole thing progressively evolved into something overwhelming. It was more than we could ever imagine.”
He recalled one time how Megan went above and beyond with a student when she was a teacher at Thomas Hart Benton Elementary School. She was informed by the school’s family liaison that a student’s family, who were living in a shelter for years, now had the opportunity to move to an apartment.
“The student’s family had nothing to move other than their clothes,” she said. “And the mother also had a 4-year-old daughter. Lo and behold, I had a girl’s bedroom set just sitting in our garage.”
She and her husband went to the family’s apartment one weekend to donate the bedroom set and also assembled it for them.
Megan also said she is active in the district’s Sunshine Committee, where it brightens the spirits of staff members who are going through difficult times or who are retiring by giving them bouquets of flowers or gifts.
“I’d rather be doing something for someone else than having someone help me,” she said. “It makes me happy when I’m helping somebody.”
Before becoming a Kansas City Royals representative, Megan was chosen as one of three finalists. She said the contest was 20 percent a fan vote and 80 percent based on the story her husband wrote for her nomination that was judged by an MLB committee. She was informed that she had been a finalist at the beginning of June and was honored at a Royals game that same month. The first week of July was when she was notified that she was chosen to be an All-Star Teacher.
“Just to see the thanks we got from everybody is what drew me in,” she said. “It was not just being one of the 30 winners, but how a huge organization recognized teachers as a whole.”
The All-Star teacher said the quick friendships that formed between the All-Star winners was also rewarding. She said each of them will keep in touch through a Facebook group.
“Even though it’s over and done, it’s unreal that it happened.”