Shelly Parks, an English teacher at Francis Howell North High, has been named the 2019 Missouri Teacher of the Year by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education [DESE]. Parks becomes the 50th Missouri Teacher of the Year since the program’s inception, and the second to come from the Francis Howell School District.
Parks, who has taught in the Francis Howell School District for 16 years, was surprised by both the recognition and the school-wide assembly that followed.
“It was shocking and humbling. There were 1,700 reasons here today why I love my job; these students are funny, smart and challenging. I also have these amazing colleagues that push me to be better and do better for kids. It’s amazing. This career is wonderful!”
DESE Commissioner Dr. Roger Dorson presented the award. “I think the real importance is that it highlights quality teaching. It honors those people who excel in classroom instruction and that is extraordinarily important for us. Shelly is a tremendous recipient of this award, very deserving, and will make a great Missouri Teacher of the Year, and hopefully National Teacher of the Year.”
Parks teaches Advanced Placement [AP] Foundations, sophomore English and senior AP English. Parks said it’s the relationships she builds with students that help her to be an effective teacher.
“In a world right now where many people might be wondering if high schools are great places to be, I’m here to tell you they are,” said Parks. “Teenagers are hilarious and driven, and they’re starting to speak up about topics that matter. As a teacher, I get to empower students to share their opinions and ideas and equip them with the skills to effectively do so. I can’t imagine any job more significant.”
A committee comprised of teachers, business leaders and education organization leaders selected Parks as the Missouri Teacher of the Year following interviews with each finalist. The winner, finalists and Regional Teachers of the Year will be honored at a banquet in Jefferson City on Oct. 22. Parks is the state’s nominee for the 2019 National Teacher of the Year.