Monday, August 21st, 2017

Park is Indiana's 2012 Teacher of the Year

Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011

Melanie Park, reading specialist teacher at Riverview Middle School, was named Huntington County Community School Corporation 2011 Teacher of the Year in September. On Monday of this week she was named Indiana’s 2012 Teacher of the Year by Dr. Tony Bennett, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Park was one of three finalists out of 31 other candidates for the award. As a finalist, Park completed an interview with Bennett, which she described as an “incredible experience.”

“Melanie’s enthusiasm spills into all aspects of her teaching,” Bennett said in a statement. “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.”

Park received both her undergraduate degree and master’s of science in language education at Indiana University and began her teaching career as a first grade teacher in LaGrange before teaching sixth grade at Riverview. She taught sixth grade for four years and served for two years as a gifted and talented teacher for the corporation, and took off six years to be at home with her own children. This is her third year back at Riverview as a reading specialist.

The Teacher of the Year process begins with each school building peer nominating one teacher every year. Building teachers of the year write up their philosophies of education for corporation nomination. Teachers selected as corporation teachers of the year develop portfolios to submit for state nomination. The Indiana Department of Education reviews portfolios and selects 10 teachers who are observed in the classroom and evaluated in Indianapolis. Park had to interview before a committee of former teachers of the year and current education department officials. She also was interviewed by Bennett and allowed committee members to visit her classroom.

In a statement, education department officials praised Park for encouraging her students to set reading goals and create data portfolios to chart their reading growth. Officials said she strives to connect with each student individually, motivating them and tailoring her instruction to suit their needs.

In her 10 years of teaching, Park has taught first grade, language arts, social studies and French. She also 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.

Tracey Shafer, Superintendent of HCCSC said, “We are just so pleased for Melanie and all the teachers she represents at Huntington schools, she is very exemplary of the fine teaching that happens not only here but in the all the classrooms across Indiana. She does a wonderful job of being able to make personal connections with all her students and engaging them to help them read.”

Parks’ husband, Steve Parks, was the HCCSC’s 2009 Teacher of the Year and made it to the state’s top 10. He has taught seventh grade science at Riverview for 16 years. They have two children, Maggie, 9, and Nathan 13.