Shelly Parks, a 2006 MEd graduate of the UMSL College of Education, is the 2019 Missouri Teacher of the Year. Parks has been an English language arts teacher at Francis Howell North High School since 2002. (Photo by August Jennewein)
Shelly Parks started to get a pretty good idea of what was going on Aug. 28 as she approached the doors of the Francis Howell North High School gymnasium.
The band had just blasted out the opening bars of the school fight song, and she could hear uproarious cheers coming from the packed bleachers. After walking through a column of cheerleaders, she paused a moment to take in the scene, then turned the corner and shared an embrace with her husband and three children.
Parks thought she was going to the gym for a TV interview about being named a finalist in the 2019 Missouri State Teacher of the Year competition. Upon taking in the raucous scene, she knew she was the teacher of the year.
“I had no idea. I found out right in that moment,” said Parks, a 2006 MEd graduate of the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “If there was no video footage, I wouldn’t believe it. It still feels like it’s just this dream.”
The last UMSL graduate to win Missouri State Teacher of the Year was Affton High School’s Cathy Cartier (BA 1977, MEd 2007) in the 2012-13 school year.
Parks has worked as an English language arts teacher at Francis Howell North since 2002. She has served as department chair since 2009 and been the school’s student council sponsor since 2003.
She wanted to go into education because of her mother, who recently retired after 40 years as a public-school educator in Missouri, and she wanted to teach English because she has always been captivated by the things you can learn about yourself, others and the world around you through reading and …