Recently, however, the Sikeston teachers received a little help for their efforts. The women were honored through the Sam's Club and Wal-Mart "Teacher of the Year Program" which recognizes outstanding teachers throughout the U.S. and in areas where the stores are in operation.
Every year Wal-Mart and Sam's associates select a teacher from those nominated by schools in that community. A $500 grant is given to the winning teacher's school in an effort to promote teaching excellence nationwide and to better educate young students.
Along with the 2001 title and a $500 check each, the women received special vests naming them "Teacher of the Year."
"I was totally shocked," said Williams, a teacher at Sikeston Kindergarten Center who was Sam's choice for "Teacher of the Year."
"I was very honored and incredibly delighted. However, I had not heard of the program before. I think it is a wonderful way for Sam's to give back to the community.
"I spend a lot of my own money for learning activities, supplies for students, snacks, etc., during the year as do most teachers. I want them to have everything that they need at school and I like to provide the 'extras.' Usually most of that money goes to Wal-Mart or Sam's, so it is really nice that they help teachers to provide for their students."
This is Williams' ninth year as a teacher at Kindergarten.
About as excited as Williams herself, Vera Glueck praised Sam's for its choice in teachers.
"Susan is a compatible and child-oriented teacher," said the kindergarten principal. "She works very hard to go the extra mile for her kids and her classroom. She does a lot of research to make sure that her teaching techniques are appropriate for young children. I was absolutely delighted that Susan was named Teacher of the Year. I think that many of our teachers work day in and day out without any type of recognition like that, so when one of them is fortunate enough to be recognized I am very very happy for them."
Bohannon, too, was flattered by the honor, especially after discovering anyone in the community could fill out a nomination form and describe their favorite teacher. The Middle School art teacher was named Teacher of the Year from Wal-Mart.
"I was very humbled and grateful," said Bohannon, who has taught art in Sikeston for 14 years. "I think it's great that Wal-Mart recognizes teachers in the community. Our community is blessed with dedicated and devoted teachers that spend many hours working with our youth not only during the school day, but in community and church organizations as well."
Bohannon, who is an art teacher at Middle School, and Roy Frakes, principal at the school, have mulled over some ideas about what to do with the $500, including paying for part of a new sign in front of Middle School. "I like that it is something everyone can enjoy," remarked Bohannon.
"Mrs. Bohannon is a caring, hardworking teacher," Frakes said. "She is willing to put forth that extra effort. That makes her deserving of this award. She has spent many years in education and by getting such an award it lets you know you have been doing all the right things educating kids. Anytime a fellow teacher is recognized for the quality of work they are doing it brings a sense of pride to all in our profession."
Applications are available in January and February from the managers at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.
Since the program began in 1996, Wal-Mart and Sam's have recognized nearly 11,000 Teachers of the Year and contributed $5.1 million in education and grants to local schools.
Although they are excited about their new-found fame and appreciate those who nominated them, Williams and Bohannon say all the thanks they really need is a child's hug or a grin from a student who's learned something new.