A passion for education developed in the heart of Darbie Valenti years ago, when the actions of an elementary school art teacher changed her life.
“School is what saved me,” Valenti said. “It shaped me, and it determined my life. I am purposeful in my mission to make sure that it does the same for the students in my classroom, because my life is visible evidence that one teacher’s ability to see potential makes all the difference to a child.”
That mission to build upon her own upbringing and take a vested interest in both students and co-workers was acknowledged on Thursday afternoon when Valenti was named the 2016-17 Missouri Teacher of the Year. The surprise announcement came during the Northwest Regional Professional Development Center’s annual Teacher of the Year celebration in St. Joseph, while the Savannah R-III school district will be celebrating “Darbie Day” on Friday at her school.
Valenti teaches fifth grade mathematics and science at Minnie Cline Elementary School in Savannah.
“I am extremely pleased that Darbie was recognized with this honor,” Savannah R-III superintendent David Brax said. “I know of no one who is more deserving, as she has dedicated her career to ensure student success. We are extremely proud of her!”
Valenti is in her 15th year of teaching overall and third at Minnie Cline, where she also works as a Missouri Learning Standards curriculum development team member. In addition, she provides professional development opportunities for five schools and works with both the student council and math contest at Minnie Cline. Valenti has worked as an adjunct professor for her alma mater, Northwest Missouri State, since 2008, and she has additional teaching experience at both King City Elementary (King City, Mo.) and North Andrew Elementary (Rosendale, Mo.).
“Darbie simply excels at making learning meaningful for each student, parent and teacher with whom she interacts,” said Troy Dunn, principal of Minnie Cline Elementary. “Her growth mindset propels her into a deep knowledge of research-based instructional practices that she continually learns about through her own lifelong learning.”
Valenti’s desire to constantly improve her teaching methods and work with those around her has granted her multiple opportunities to both attend and present at statewide conferences and events.
“It’s my passion to continually improve the teaching profession by providing teachers with instruction in best practices,” Valenti said. “However my true passion always has been and will continue to be the education of children in the classroom and beyond.”
Valenti will serve as Missouri’s representative for the National Teacher of the Year competition and will be honored at a banquet in Jefferson City on Oct. 24 along with six other finalists:
- Katherine Arens, Lindbergh Schools (English, Lindbergh High School)
- Jody Hilton, Camdenton R-III (social studies and English language arts, Oak Ridge Intermediate School)
- Sandy Humbyrd, Hollister R-V (mathematics, Hollister High School)
- Nancy Luebbers, University City (English, Barbara C. Jordan Elementary)
- Lindsay Thompson, Fort Osage R-I (English, Fort Osage High School)
- Michelle Uptegrove, Lee’s Summit (special education, Cedar Creek Elementary)
The Missouri Teacher of the Year program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers in providing a quality education to their students. Preparing, developing and supporting effective educators is a primary goal of the Department’s Top 10 by 20 Initiative, Missouri’s effort to rank among the top 10 performing states in education in the nation by the year 2020.
The Department conducts the Missouri Teacher of the Year program with financial support provided by the Boeing Company and the Monsanto Fund.