Top-notch choice; Benton names Stoll Teacher of the Year

Darci Stoll has been named Teacher of the Year for the Benton School District.

The announcement of the honor was made Thursday night in a meeting of the Benton School Board.

Stoll is a social studies teacher at Benton High School, where she has taught for the past nine years.

Superintendent Jeff Collum noted that the "selection of the Teacher of the Year is quite a process."

It involves a vote among all the teachers of the district, he pointed out.

As the district's Teacher of the Year, Stoll is now eligible for the state Teacher of the Year competition, he noted.

Collum said Stoll will be recognized at the districtwide convocation on Aug. 11.

"Thank you very much for this honor," Stoll said at the meeting. "I love my job. I teach fantastic kids."
Noting that she experienced "a tough year" in the past school term because of family health issues, she said she received comfort from the concern and compassion from her students.

"They made my situation so much better," she said. "When I would walk into the classroom, they would ask 'how is your family?' That meant so much to me."

While Stoll noted that she loves teaching, she said it is "about more than imparting knowledge to her students."

"I love teaching them about social studies," she said, "but I want to contribute to helping them become good adults."

Lita Gattis, principal of Benton High School, commended Stoll for receiving the honor.

She pointed out that the award alternates between an elementary and secondary teacher every other year.
Gattis said Stoll was "really touched" by the concern her students expressed for her and her family during her daughter's illness this past year. She noted that Autumn,12, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes this year.

"They wanted to make sure she was all right and it meant a lot to her," Gattis noted.

"She also serves as our girls and boys tennis coach and is the head of our social studies department," Gattis said.

Another responsibility Stoll handles is the schoolwide awards ceremony.

"That's a big thing and she did a great job with it," Gattis said.

In addition, Gattis asked Stoll to start a senior games project this year.

"I asked her if she would look into it and she took it and ran with it," Gattis said.

"At the end of the year when the kids are tired and seniors are ready to get out, it put a spark back into things. She spearheaded this and it was a real uplifting thing for our students."

Gattis called Stoll a "really positive person and we need that."

"She's always prepared for her classes. Her instruction methods are good, and she's interesting to listen to.
She's a really caring person.

"She's not just a super teacher, but a super person, too."

Stoll's family include husband Mark; and their two daughters, Autumn, 12, and Allie, 8.