Morgan Payton said her agriculture science teacher at Salisbury High School in central Missouri inspired her to forge that same path for herself.

Payton, who teaches the subject at the Blue Springs Freshman Center and also at Blue Springs High School, said she also had seen the impact that teacher, her father Ron Scheiderer, had on her two older siblings.

“I always had an interest in working and helping others, and education seemed like a natural fit,” she said. “After going to college, when I student taught I knew that was what I definitely wanted to do.”

Payton, who graduated from Salisbury High School in 2001 and earned bachelor's degree in 2005 and master's degree in 2009 from the University of Missouri, is in her seventh year teaching at the Freshman Center. She was honored Friday morning as the Blue Springs School District Teacher of the Year.

“I saw the impact (my father) had on myself and my peers, and I knew that I wanted to someday be able to return that,” Payton said, adding that his passion for helping others is something she has tried to convey.

“It was him truly being vested in that student and helping them grow,” she said. “I wanted to be able to do that with students and push them to become better people and productive citizens.”

Payton said she enjoys first working with the freshman age group because they're at a unique point in their lives, then seeing some of them through the years in high school.

“It's a fun time in their lives, and they're trying to figure out how they belong and where they fit in,” she said. “I get to watch them grow and develop into strong leaders.”

Each school building in the district nominates a teacher for the award, and Payton's honor marks the first time a Freshman Center teacher has been honored as Teacher of the Year in the district. She will now take part in the state competition.

Last year's honoree, John Nowlin Elementary Teacher Linda Glasgow, was named in Missouri Teacher of the Year later in the fall.