FHN’s Shelly Parks Selected as Missouri Teacher of the Year

Posted on 08/28/2018
FHN’s Shelly Parks Selected as Missouri Teacher of the Year

Shelly Parks, an English teacher at Francis Howell North High School (FHN), has been named the 2019 Missouri Teacher of the Year by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). She becomes the 50th Missouri Teacher of the Year since the program’s inception, and the second to come from Francis Howell. Parks was previously honored as the 2018 Francis Howell School District Teacher of the Year.

Parks, who has taught in the District for 16 years, was surprised by both the recognition and the school-wide assembly. “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 made the trip from Jefferson City to present 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. She also becomes an example for classroom teachers around the state. 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. As different as her students are, they all have something in common – they matter to her. It is important for her to get to know her students and make them feel valued. It is the relationships that she builds with students that help her be such 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, who obviously loves her job and working with high school students. “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.”

FHN Principal Dr. Nathan Hostetler has seen firsthand the impact she has on her students and her coworkers. “Shelly holds herself to the highest standards, living by the maxim, ‘If it isn’t good enough for my own kids, it isn’t good enough for my students.’ And that applies to what she does in the classroom, what she expects her students to produce, and to how she treats every student who walks through her door. She means the world to her students because they know they mean the world to her, and that helps sets the tone of high expectations and compassion for the entire faculty.”

Parks was inspired to be a teacher by her mother and is motivated by her fellow teachers as well. “I get the privilege of collaborating with creative and passionate teachers across the District, and I work alongside devoted and inspiring teachers at FHN every day. Knowing all those people and the incredible work they do each day makes me so humbled to have even been considered for an award like this.”

What makes Parks an outstanding educator is her emphasis on climate, culture, and community. She believes in treating her classroom like her family. “When they say something funny, we write it down to remember it,” said Parks. “We take pictures and put them on the walls. We fully engage when someone is talking. Cooperative learning time is like our dinner table time - undivided attention and no distractions. We talk about our days; we dream about the future. We apologize, forgive, and laugh. We celebrate our learning accomplishments!”

In addition to her work in the classroom, Parks has received numerous professional recognitions, attended and led countless professional development sessions, and is engaged in many aspects of the Francis Howell learning community. In 2007, she became a National Board Certified Teacher and was recertified in 2016. She won the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016 and was named the FHN Teacher of the Year in 2017. She serves as the English Language Arts Department Chair and has led District and school-level Professional Development sessions on Kagan and Marzano instructional strategies. She has also served as Professional Learning Community (PLC) leader and curriculum writer for English II, Creative Writing, and AP Literature and Composition.

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 October 22. Parks will also serve as the state’s nominee for the 2019 National Teacher of the Year.

The Missouri Teacher of the Year program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers in providing a quality education to their students. Candidates are judged on how they are respected by students, parents, colleagues and the community, and whether or not they play an active role in the school community and provide quality leadership among their peers. Recipients must be able to demonstrate a strong ability to foster excellence in education through improved student learning. For more information, visit www.dese.mo.gov.

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