FHN’s Shelly Parks Named 2018 FHSD Teacher of the Year

Posted on 03/02/2018
FHN’s Shelly Parks Named 2018 FHSD Teacher of the Year

The Francis Howell School District is proud to announce that Shelly Parks, English Language Arts teacher at Francis Howell North High School (FHN), has been selected as the 2018 FHSD Teacher of the Year. Her teaching philosophy can be summed up in one sentence that she has on a post-it note sitting on her desk: “If it’s not good enough for my own children, it’s not good enough for my students.”

Parks was inspired to be a teacher by her mother, and is motivated by her fellow teachers as well. “I get the privilege of collaborating with creative and passionate teachers across the district, and I work alongside devoted and inspiring teachers at FHN every day. Knowing all those people and the incredible work they do each day makes me so humbled to have even been considered for an award like this.”

What makes Parks an outstanding educator is her emphasis on climate, culture, and community. She believes in treating her classroom like her family. “When they say something funny, we write it down to remember it,” said Parks. “We take pictures and put them on the walls. We fully engage when someone is talking. Cooperative learning time is like our dinner table time - undivided attention and no distractions. We talk about our days; we dream about the future. We apologize, forgive, and laugh. We celebrate our learning accomplishments!”

FHN Principal Andy Downs knows the impact that she has on her students. “Shelly is an incredibly talented teacher who blends masterful instruction with outstanding interpersonal skills. Students know that she cares about them and believes in them, and as a result, students achieve more than they ever thought they could.”

Parks teaches three very different student groups - AP Foundations, sophomore English, and senior AP English. But all her students have something in common – they matter to her. “In a world right now where many people might be wondering if high schools are great places to be, I'm here to tell you they are. Teenagers are hilarious and driven, and they're starting to speak up about topics that matter. As a teacher, I get to empower students to share their opinions and ideas and equip them with the skills to effectively do so. I can't imagine any job more significant!”

The foundation of Parks teaching model is built on relationships. “It is important to me to know the names of all students on the first day of school because each student is valuable. These relationships continue after graduation. Whether it’s answering a research question via email, getting a hug when they return from college and pop up to visit, or attending the wedding of a former student, my students will always be my kids.”

In addition to her work in the classroom, Parks has received numerous professional recognitions, attended and led countless professional development sessions, and is engaged in many aspects of the Francis Howell learning community. In 2007, she became a National Board Certified Teacher and was recertified in 2016. She won the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016 and was named the FHN Teacher of the Year in 2017. She serves as the English Language Arts Department Chair and has led District and school-level PD sessions on Kagan and on Marzano instructional strategies. She has also served as Professional Learning Community (PLC) leader and curriculum writer for English II, Creative Writing, and AP Literature and Composition.

Parks believes that “equipping and empowering others is the greatest contribution, and  teaching is a selfless profession.” Her daughter writes lesson plans for pretend students for fun, “so I suspect that could be another accomplishment down the road -encouraging my own daughter to join our often tiresome, but meaningful profession the way my mom inspired me.” Here’s hoping that another generation of great educators will soon be on the way.

Parks will be honored, along with all building Teachers of the Year, Support Staff Employees of the Year, Howell of Fame Award winners, and District retirees at the annual Howell of Fame Awards Ceremony on Monday, May 7, 2018.


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