Missouri Teacher of the Year – Melissa Grandel

I always knew I was going to be a teacher. Kids are our best resource. They are the most important natural resource, and if we don’t spend time helping them, then we’re lost in the future. And what my job is about is helping them and making sure that they make the most of their lives. Not only do I really care about them and not only do I want to be here with them, but I believe every single kid is capable. We just have to figure out how to bring about their success. I live in Fordland because I love Fordland, right? I love this town and I love what it stands for, the fact that we’re tiny and that everybody knows everybody, and everybody has a story on everyone else. And so it’s just amazing to be able to see what Fordland the district is accomplishing and to be a part of and maybe a reason for some of that success. It’s such a good feeling. It’s amazing to be able to see that your town is doing well, that it’s thriving. I always tell kids that they should consider Drury because my time there was so amazing and I think it’s pretty easy to go from a town like Fordland, where we have 150 kids in our school, to a place like Drury because it’s still that kind of hometown small school feel. The passion that Drury instilled in me is that passion for not just kids, but for people in general, and they did such a good job of preparing me not only to be a teacher, but also just to be someone who was in touch with the world and who understood the world problems and who wanted to help to solve those problems. I can remember having conversations with professors in their offices that were not about necessarily what happened in class or, “Gosh, I need help,” but “What’s going on with your life?” and “How can I help you become who you want to be?” And that really affected me because I try to do that with my own students now that the idea is I’m not just teaching a subject. I’m teaching them how to be successful later. If we want to make change, it never happens quickly and you have to look at the long game. And the long game is our kids. In my opinion, in my experience, kids are good. And it’s what you do to find that goodness that makes the difference. It felt right to be a part of this community and to be someone who the kids could depend on day in and day out to be part of them and love them.

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