Statement issued Monday:
Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett named Riverview Middle School teacher Melanie Park Indiana's 2012 Teacher of the Year at a surprise school assembly on Monday. Park teaches Reading Remediation in grades six, seven and eight.
"Melanie's enthusiasm spills into all aspects of her teaching," Bennett said. "She believes all students – regardless of their life circumstances – can learn, and she is an effective and inspirational teacher that her students will always remember."
At the beginning of each school year, Park's students set reading goals and create data portfolios to chart their own reading growth. She strives to connect with each student individually, motivating them and differentiating instruction to meet their needs. Park holds leadership positions in a variety of student activities, focusing on academics, fitness, community service and creativity.
Her greatest reward at the end of the school year is seeing the growth documented in her students' data portfolios. "I feel like I am meeting my students in the victory circle," Park wrote in her Teacher of the Year application.
Park received both her undergraduate degree and Masters of Science in Language Education at Indiana University. In her ten years of teaching, Park has taught first grade, Language Arts, Social Studies and French. She also currently teaches an online course for teachers, through Cengage Learning, about how to teach writing. This year, she received a 2011 Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship grant for her engaging lessons.
"The Huntington County Community School Corporation is extremely proud of Melanie Park. She exemplifies great teachers and great teaching in Huntington and across the State of Indiana," Huntington County Community Schools Superintendent Tracey R. Shafer said. "She views herself as an academic trainer whose primary mission is to relate, motivate and differentiate instruction for her students. She has an exceptional ability to achieve this mission by using her life experiences and learned abilities as a professional educator to connect with the learning needs of her students. Her sincere desire and ability to help children succeed sets her apart as a classroom teacher."
An Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) committee comprised of department personnel, past Teacher of the Year honorees as well as external community and education leaders selected Park as the Teacher of the Year after interviewing ten finalists and making classroom visits. Park will be Indiana's nomination for the 2012 National Teacher of the Year honor. All 32 Indiana Teacher of the Year candidates will be recognized at a banquet on November 14, 2011.
The Indiana Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by the IDOE, the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) and CSO Architects. The National Teacher of the Year Program sponsored by ING, Target, University of Phoenix and People to People – is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers.