‘Favorite’ job earns Ayton state award

Crystal Hemphill

Every year, the governor of Missouri gives a teacher from each university in the state an Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. This year, Grace Ayton, associate professor of nursing, was awarded this honor after being nominated by University President Julio León.

“I was very surprised and honored when I heard about the award,” Ayton said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my co-workers. I look good because of them.”

Ayton worked at St. John’s Regional Hospital for six years before joining the nursing department at Missouri Southern 20 years ago. Her classes range from Community Health Nursing to Transitions in Nursing. Next year she will also be helping assessment in technology for juniors and seniors. She said she faced a new challenge as interim director of the nursing department this past semester, but feels ready to go back to her first love of teaching.

Ayton thinks her students can find her to be approachable and friendly because of her love for nursing. Her ability to assist her students on a one to one basis is important to her and can be traced back to her clinical background as a registered nurse. These aspects are vital for her teaching methods.

“My favorite thing about teaching is probably knowing that I am impacting people that are going into this profession,” she said. “There’s nothing like it.”

She said she received an award which reflects something she has done everyday with the people around her.

“I am very humbled by all this,” Ayton said. “I want to give my thanks for being recognized for doing something I love. But, my biggest thanks would have to go to my co-workers again. They make everything I do so easy and worthwhile.”