Ozarks Life: Miller educator finalist for Missouri Teacher of the Year

Matthew Pierce Matheney, V, is one of two Ozarks teachers to make the final seven up for the award.
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 3:13 PM CDT
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MILLER, Mo. (KY3) - Up Highway 39, on Sixth Street, sits Miller High School.

It has a well-documented history of success in sports. But recently, the school’s superintendent had some exciting academic news for Mr. Matheney’s math class.

“Hey, congratulations,” Dr. Dustin Storm said.

“On what,” Matthew Pierce Matheney, V, asked with a smile?

“You’re the teacher of the year finalist,” his superintendent replied.

“My entire dream, since I was 16, has been to be an educator,” Matheney said.

Matheney is the fifth of his name, and he is doing his long line of Matheney men proud.

“My father is in is a biologist with the Missouri Conservation Department,” Matheney said. “And so he kind of got my logical brain working as a kid. And then my grandfather was a professor at the Baptist university in Kansas City.”

Matthew’s mother is a teacher, and his wife’s family, you guessed it, are also teachers.

“I tell you we have a hidden gem, a Goldmine with him for sure,” Dr. Storm said. “This is one of those rare talents that can relate to kids.”

“I feel very honored to be in a community where I feel like my voice is heard,” Matheney said. “But I wanted to give that to the students too.”

Along with teaching any math course Miller needs, Matthew also finds time to sponsor the clubs for gaming, math, eSports, scholars bowl, and coaches high school track and junior high girls basketball. Last year, he introduced the all-school Congress Project.

“We had the gyms filled with students acting as the House of Representatives and Senate,” Matheney said. “The students came up with Bill ideas that were going to affect the environment of the school itself. And they passed bills, they had to send things back and forth between the House and Senate.”

“They get a chance to understand the process,” Dr. Storm said, “and also, we have an opportunity to listen to our students and learn.”

One of the things the students introduced and approved was eSports... and you already know who the sponsor is.

“The opportunity that they provide for students outside of the typical academic classes is really important,” Matheney said, “not only for learning important life skills that you don’t necessarily see in the classroom but also for building community.”

And all of those interests, and the berth of the student day of congress, got the attention of the state panel. It helped Matheney become one of the seven finalists for the state teacher of the year.

“Looking back,” Matheney said, “I’m really, really proud of the things that I have done, and that being in this school has allowed me to do.”

“I can’t think of a better role model for our state than having a Mr. Matheney become the teacher of the year,” Dr. Storm said.

Our other finalist from the Ozarks is Dr. Allison Fleetwood, the theater director at Nixa. We also profiled her at the end of the previous school year when she was named Nixa’s teacher of the year. Click here to watch her story.

Both educators are a first for their districts. No one in Miller or Nixa has made it this far for teacher of the year. Their final interviews were on Friday, September 9. The panel will name the Missouri Teacher of the Year in two weeks,

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com