Chris Holmes grew up watching his father teach college literature and composition, noticing the difference his dad made in the lives of his students. That experience, combined with the influences of teachers in high school and college, forged a teacher who tries to emulate those who inspired him.
“If I have contributed or accomplished anything in education, it would be the emanation of positive energy, the kind rooted in honesty, sincerity and integrity,” said Holmes, who teaches journalism at Hazelwood West High School in Hazelwood, Mo. “I try to practice these morals, values and ethics, and to model them for students, colleagues and parents.”
On Tuesday, Holmes’ contributions and accomplishments were celebrated as he was named Missouri Teacher of the Year by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“I am extremely proud of Chris Holmes and his accomplishments during his eight years with Hazelwood,” said Dr. Grayling Tobias, superintendent of the Hazelwood School District. “Winning the Missouri Teacher of the Year is a tremendous honor for Hazelwood, North County, the St. Louis region, and the state of Missouri.”
Holmes feels that one of his biggest contributions to education is the dropout prevention program he helped initiate three years ago at Hazelwood West.
“We implemented Project WALK with about 50 freshmen and sophomore students who exhibited multiple characteristics associated with students who drop out,” Holmes said. “Our preliminary data suggest that we will graduate dozens of students in the spring of 2015 who, based on their previous path, would have likely dropped out without the intervention.”
Holmes was Hazelwood West High School’s 2013-14 Teacher of the Year and was named 2009 Educator of the Year by the Governor’s Council on Disability. He also won the 2011 Special Ambassador Award from the Special School District of St. Louis County.
“Chris Holmes has a passion for teaching and for his students that I’ve seldom seen in another educator,” said Dennis Newell, principal of Hazelwood West. “His dedication to his students is unquestionable.”
Holmes has taught English and journalism for 13 years, the past eight at Hazelwood West. Prior to that, Holmes taught in the Clayton School District. He also spent three weeks during the summer of 2014 teaching classes at the Missouri Scholars Academy at the University of Missouri. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Truman State University and received a Joseph Pulitzer Teaching Fellowship for post-graduate study at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Holmes will represent Missouri in the National Teacher of the Year competition. He will be honored at a banquet on October 27, along with the six other finalists for Missouri Teacher of the Year:
- Callie Dobbins, an agriculture teacher at Saline County Career Center, Marshall.
- Jeremy Boesch, an English language arts teacher at Timberland High School, Wentzville.
- Lauren Cumming, a French/foreign language teacher at Oakville Middle School, Mehlville.
- Valerie Turner, an art teacher at Highland Elementary, Riverview Gardens School District, St. Louis.
- Laura Gilchrist, a science and social studies teacher at New Mark Middle School, North Kansas City.
- Karisa Boyer, a science teacher at Joplin High School, Joplin.
The Department conducts the Teacher of the Year Award program with financial support from Boeing and the Monsanto Fund of St. Louis. Every district in Missouri is eligible to submit an application for a teacher on staff for consideration for Missouri’s Teacher of the Year program.