2012-13 Missouri Teacher of the Year
Cathy Cartier came to teaching later than most – after earning a degree in psychology, embarking on a career in social work, marrying and starting a family. Wanting to make sure her children were getting the best education possible, she began substitute teaching to check out the school her children attended. She is now an educator in that district.
Cartier, an English teacher at Affton High School in St. Louis, today was named Missouri Teacher of the Year for 2012-13 by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Her superintendent surprised her with the announcement at a meeting for district employees preparing for the upcoming school year.
Throughout her childhood, Cartier loved to read and dreamed of becoming a writer but says she never once thought about being a teacher. Looking back, though, she says she can see that teaching was her destiny. She credits her parents with creating a home life filled with opportunities to learn. Her dad took her on regular trips to the library, and her mom hosted neighborhood story times in their basement.
“Little did I know I was being prepared to invite students into a learning environment rich with literature and with the realization that everyone deserves to learn and express their thoughts,” Cartier wrote in her application for the Teacher of the Year award.
Cartier has taught at Affton for the past nine years where she has served as curriculum co-chair for English language arts and spearheaded preparation for the school's end-of-course testing. She is a teacher consultant for the Gateway Writing Project and has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. While she can list numerous professional accomplishments, her most valued are those related to the personal relationships she has with her students.
"I know that when I build relationships with my students I can aim high. They will always amaze me," Cartier said.
In a letter of recommendation for the Teacher of the Year Award, Rob Walker, chairman of the Affton High School English Department, wrote, "Students quickly realize when they have Ms. Cartier for English, they have another parent in the room, and not just any parent, but the parent they deserve — one that will hold them to high expectations, refuse them the easy path and give them genuine support, academically and emotionally, when they need it most."
A note sent to Cartier by one of her students last year read, "Believe it or not, I actually looked forward to going to your class every day...Just the fact that you were so enthusiastic about improving your learning environment made me want to improve my performance in both yours and all of my other classes as well."
Cartier will represent Missouri in the National Teacher of the Year competition. She and five other finalists for the Missouri award will be honored at a banquet Oct. 15 in Jefferson City.
Cartier received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology, a Master of Education Degree in Secondary Education – Curriculum and Instruction and a Certificate in the Teaching of Writing from the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducts the Teacher of the Year Award program with financial support from the Boeing Company of St. Louis.