Five SPS Teachers Finalists for Teacher of the Year

The Springfield Public Schools will be naming their 2019-2020 teacher of the year April 15th during a Teacher Appreciation Banquet at the Oasis Convention Center.

The District has announced five finalists for the award.

Shari Balla is a “Wonder Years” (preschool) teacher at York Elementary School. Balla said that she greets her students with unconditional love because she feels building a loving and safe environment will grow the connectedness necessary to meet high expectations.

Courtney Dameron of Hillcrest High School teaches Family and Consumer Sciences. Dameron focuses on teaching her students the things they need to know in the real world.

“No one ever leaves my classroom saying ‘When am I ever going to use this?'” Dameron said in a statement.

She also focuses on ways to make the lessons real to the students by using tangible items to engage them so they obtain “practical knowledge” of the lesson.

Beth McIntyre, English Language Arts instructor at Central High School, believes teaching is a “craft that has to be practiced” and a set of “skills to be honed”. She believes that to train students who are lifelong learners, then a teacher has to also be a lifelong learner.

Audra Uzzell teaches the student at the Phelps Center for Gifted Education. She says that she works hard to have the students see her has an adult focused on helping them obtain their best education path and make the learning fun. She also believes that the best teachers model what they expect from their students in their daily lives.

Fine arts teacher Kevin Zimmerman of Harrison Elementary School believes in connecting with students in two ways: the personal connection and the ways that art content can connect with other subjects students will face during their day. He tries to show how math can impact sketching or the cultural significance behind a particular piece of art.

The April 16th banquet will be hosted by the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools and starts at 5:30 p.m. with the Teacher of the Year announcement at the close of the event.