Two area teachers at two Phelps County schools were awarded $500 scholarships recently by the Phelps County Retired Teachers organization.

Two area teachers at two Phelps County schools were awarded $500 scholarships recently by the  Phelps County Retired Teachers organization.
Cheryl Briggeman, who lives in Rolla and teaches Spanish at John F. Hodge High School in St. James, and Crystal Thompson, who also lives in Rolla but teaches third grade at Mark Twain Elementary, were announced as the scholarship winners at the June 4 retired teachers group meeting.
The scholarships are annual awards given to a full-time teacher or support staff member who has been working in Phelps County for at least two years but less than 10 years.
The scholarship assists beginning teachers or support staff to obtain additional course work to help improve their teaching skills or work toward an educational degree.
This is the first time the retired teachers group has awarded two scholarships. Thirteen applications from qualified teachers were received this year.
To be eligible for consideration for one of the scholarships, teachers or support staff members had to submit an application stating where they taught, how long they had been teaching and why they were qualified to receive the scholarship, citing educational goals and degree sought.
Briggeman has taught in Missouri for four years, two of them in St. James. She earned her teaching certificate in Nebraska where she taught for two years before coming to Missouri, where she also earned a teaching certificate. Both certificates allow her to teach Spanish and P.E. in grades kindergarten through 12. She is currently enrolled in Missouri Baptist University’s master’s of educational technology degree program.
“My desire for pursuing this master’s degree is to help my students learn how to use (the) different avenues of technology that are available to them as they become more fluent in understanding and speaking Spanish,” Briggeman said. “It is important to me that I teach my students using 21st Century technology and collaboration tools for success beyond (the) classroom…It is my goal to help  prepare my students for the career world as well as any advanced education they may pursue beyond high school.”
Thompson has taught at Mark Twain Elementary for two years. She holds a Missouri teaching certificate which allows her to teach any subject up through sixth grade and mathematics up to ninth grade.  She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in instructional mathematics for elementary and middle school through Drury University.
“Any educator’s goal should be (to) provide a positive learning environment,” Thompson said. “Trying to learn mathematics can be frustrating for students. I believe the coursework
“I am taking is teaching me how to reduce the frustration level for many of my students which allows more opportunity for learning to take place. (It) helps relate each skill to the real world which is our ultimate goal for our students — to be able to use these skills in life.”