Missouri Announces Finalists for 2020 Teacher of the Year


After receiving more than 240 nominations from citizens, school districts and charter schools throughout the state of Missouri, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced seven finalists for the 2020 Missouri Teacher of the Year award. This year’s finalists represent five different regions throughout the state and highlight the broad range of course options that are helping prepare Missouri students for success beyond graduation.

The seven finalists include:

  • Dan Brinkmann, Washington – automotive technology, Four Rivers Career Center
  • Melissa Grandel, Fordland R-III – English language arts, Fordland High School
  • Zachary Hamby, Ava R-I – English language arts, Ava High School
  • Denise Henggeler, Northeast Nodaway Co. R-V – fourth grade, Northeast Nodaway Elementary
  • Kevin Lay, Gasconade Co. R-II – physics/physical science/STEM, Owensville High School
  • Rachael Wilcox, Francis Howell R-III – first grade, Independence Elementary
  • Sandra Wood, Maryville R-II – Spanish, Maryville High School

“I want to commend every teacher in Missouri for their hard work as we start the school year,” Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven said. “These seven finalists provide a snapshot of the lasting impact great teachers have on our students from the first to the last day they step into a Missouri public school. We couldn’t be more excited for this announcement.”

A committee comprised of teachers, business leaders and education organization leaders will choose the Missouri Teacher of the Year following interviews with each finalist on Monday, September 9. The winner, finalists, semifinalists and Regional Teachers of the Year will be honored at a banquet in Jefferson City on Monday, October 21. The new Missouri Teacher of the Year will serve as the state’s nominee for the 2020 National Teacher of the Year.

The Missouri Teacher of the Year program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers in providing a quality education to their students. Shelly Parks, an English language arts teacher from Francis Howell North High School (Francis Howell R-III), is the current Missouri Teacher of the Year.

DESE conducts the Missouri Teacher of the Year program with financial support provided by the Boeing Company and Bayer AG.