Fordland R-3 School District's Melissa Grandel, a high school English Language Arts teacher, has been named a state finalist for Missouri Teacher of the Year.
Grandel is an alumnus from the Fordland R-3 School District and has worked in the Fordland School District for 21 years. Chris Ford, Fordland School superintendent, stated, "Mrs. Grandel is the model teacher for the State of Missouri. Mrs. Grandel's students are successful because she provides a rigorous, equitable, and a relationship-minded focused classroom."
According to Grandel, she found out about the award through a notification she received.
"My principal, Tamitha Ritter, nominated me for Regional Teacher of the Year," said Grandel. "When I received that honor, I was eligible to apply for Missouri State Teacher of the Year."
Grandel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in Education and Creative Writing from Drury University in 1995 and in 2004 with a Master’s of Arts in Communication from Drury University. Melissa started her teaching career in Mountain Grove School District as a 6-8 Spanish Teacher in 1995. In 1998, she transitioned into her current position in the Fordland R-3 School District.
While at Fordland High School, Grandel has taught English II, Advanced Placement Language and Composition, English IV, Dual Credit Speech, Dual Credit Leadership, Yearbook/Journalism, and Spanish. She has also been the sponsor of the Beta Club, Student Council, Foreign Language Club and coached the Fordland Academic Team. Under her guidance, the Beta Club has achieved several state championships and was the National Beta Club Engineering Champions in 2018. According to Grandel, she always wanted to be a teacher, ever since she was a child watching her own mother and grandmother touch the lives of many students through their own work as teachers.
"I believe that teaching is a calling and that is my purpose in life — the work God intended for me to do with the gifts and talents he gave me," said Grandel. "I cannot imagine a better purpose: to spend the day with kids; to be able to explore the world with them; to get them excited about books, ideas, and possibilities; to help them plan their futures; to make a difference every day."
Grandel is eligible to compete for Missouri Teacher of the Year for the 2019-20 school year. The selection committee, composed of teachers, business leaders and education organization leaders, will choose the Missouri Teacher of the Year following interviews with each finalist this fall.
The new Missouri Teacher of the Year will serve as the state’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition. She will be honored at a banquet in Jefferson City on Oct. 21, along with the other six finalists and regional teachers of the year.
The Missouri Teacher of the Year program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers in providing a quality education to their students. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducts the program with financial support provided by the Boeing Company and the Monsanto Fund.
"Being selected as a finalist is an amazing opportunity!" said Grandel. “I will be allowed the chance to become an advocate on the state level, serving on a variety of committees and being a part of teacher groups that will focus on educational issues such as improving instruction and equitable access for all students. As well, I'll have the opportunity to meet many talented educators from whom I can learn new teaching techniques and possible avenues for student success. Furthermore, I feel that this is an opportunity to highlight all that the Fordland district is accomplishing, specifically all of the outstanding achievements by our students and staff."