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story.lead_photo.caption Kara Wilkerson, left, a special education teacher with Fulton Public Schools, celebrates with Callaway Bank CEO Kim Barnes after winning a cash giveaway at the second Annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfast. Teachers also received swag bags and other goodies. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

Callaway County is home to more than 500 teachers — and it seemed like most of them were at the Teacher Appreciation Breakfast on Friday.

This is the second year the Callaway Chamber of Commerce has hosted the breakfast to recognize the contributions teachers make to the community. Teachers from all public and private schools within the county were welcome to attend.

"I'm so excited to celebrate our teachers this morning," Chamber Executive Director Tamara Tateosian said. "You don't even know how important you are to the success of Callaway County. Every day, we talk about education and workforce development, and you're a huge piece of the puzzle for us."

Teachers enjoyed a free breakfast, inspirational speakers, vendor booths, swag bags and prize giveaways during the event. Some 80 area businesses chipped in to make the breakfast possible.

"It was an easy decision to sponsor this event," said Kim Barnes, presenting sponsor and president of Callaway Bank. "We appreciate you a whole bunch."

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Even Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe's wife, Claudia Kehoe, came out to help teachers get pumped up for the school year.

"Callaway County and Missouri would be an entirely different place to live and raise our children without teachers like you," she said.

Kehoe noted State Sen. Jeanie Riddle was a teacher in the South Callaway R-2 district for many years. She said her husband frequently encounters former students of Riddle's.

"She's just one teacher, so the impact all of you make together is remarkable," Kehoe said.

Teachers in attendance said the event left them feeling valued by the community. Working with the children is a reward in itself, though, said South Callaway High School special education teacher Megan Wieberg.

"Little things day-to-day show we're appreciated, like the kids saying 'thank you,'" she said. "But this is a special occasion."