By the time Meghan Jenkins started college at Northwest Missouri State University, she had no doubt elementary education was her path.

The inspiration didn't come so much from her own teachers as her own home, though.

For Jenkins, who was honored this spring as Teacher of the Year in the Blue Springs School District, it came at home in Maryville, where she had a special-needs sister.

“I helped out a lot at home (with her) growing up, and that continued on through my going to school,” said Jenkins a fifth grade teacher at Chapel Lakes Elementary. She’s been with the school and district for six years now.

Her sister passed away 16 years ago.

“She has a huge place in my heart and made me the teacher I am today,” said Jenkins, who has been teaching now for 15 years.

Jenkins earned her bachelor's degree from Northwest Missouri State in 1994 and later her master's degree. She taught a year of seventh grade in Savannah, then five years in the Lee's Summit School District before going to the Blue Valley School District in Kansas. Her husband grew up in Lee's Summit, and they wanted to be close to their children's grandparents, which led to the move back to Lee's Summit. (Chapel Lakes is in northern neighborhood in the city).

Jenkins said she most enjoys that there is always something new in her education career.

“Each day is different, and each year is different – the challenges, the academics as well as helping the child grow into our family,” Jenkins said. “I consider Chapel Lakes a home, and it's a team effort, challenging them and pushing them in positive ways.

“I hope that's what I've done for them.”

Jenkins will now be in the competition for Missouri Teacher of the Year. Regional winners will be announced later this summer.