March 14, 2023–Two Missouri Western State University graduates were recently awarded Outstanding Beginning Teacher Awards by the Missouri Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (MACTE). 

vasia katsanouVasia Katsanou graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Education-Art degree. She is the K-12 art teacher for the Buchanan County R-4 School District. She not only teaches all 13 grades, but she developed and wrote the art curriculum for her district. Katsanou “is an excellent example of a highly qualified teacher making a difference in the lives of the students in this small rural school district,” according to her nomination letter.

“The best part about being a teacher is to see that you have shifted a student’s mindset towards growth, by responding to their individual needs,” Katsanou said. “A proud teacher moment is when they smile and say ‘I did this!’”

student mother teacher celebrate kindnessPresada (Clark) Gatewood graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She is a teacher at Liberty Oaks Elementary in the Liberty 53 School District. Gatewood “is a vibrant, thoughtful and compassionate elementary teacher…who goes above and beyond for them, especially those who have experienced bullying,” her nomination letter read.

“Everybody wants to feel like they belong, everybody wants to feel connected to another person,” Gatewood told KCTV 5 last year when she was presented with a Celebrate Kindness Award. “Kids can’t really thrive in life if they don’t have the bare minimum, the essentials, and a sense of belonging is one of those essential things.”

Katsanou and Gatewood were among 56 beginning teachers recognized during the MACTE Spring Conference in Columbia, Missouri, earlier this month.

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit