The Missouri State Teacher of the Year Program is conducted annually by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The Teacher of the Year program is designed to focus public attention on excellence in teaching and to honor classroom teachers.

Districts participating in the Teacher of the Year Program have found the program to have a positive impact on the entire community. Recognizing outstanding teachers 
a) establishes a culture that rewards excellence in teaching,
b) validates the work of teachers,
c) provides teachers with a platform to speak about educational issues, 
d) gives students a sense of pride in their teachers, 
e) showcases teachers as positive role models,
f) encourages students to think about teaching as a career,
g) gives the community a sense of pride in its teachers, and
h) helps to get the public involved and invested in the schools.

State-level honors for the Teacher of the Year include the following:
  • Cash award provided by The Boeing Company of St. Louis
  • Classroom technology package
  • Recognition banquet sponsored by the Missouri State Board of Education
  • Recognition ceremonies with the governor and legislature
  • Reception sponsored by AFT, MNEA, and MSTA
National activities include the following:
  • Meeting with other state Teachers of the Year and state coordinators (expenses paid)
  • Attending International Space Camp (expenses paid)
  • Meeting in the White House Rose Garden when the National Teacher of the Year is announced
Selection Process
A committee appointed by DESE selects a winner according to criteria established at the national level. The selection committee includes, but is not limited to, a school administrator, a representative from Missouri PTA, a school public relations specialist, a representative from the corporate sponsor, a representative from the chamber of commerce, a representative from each of the three teacher organizations, and the current and past Teacher of the Year. The selection committee meets during the summer to review candidates’ materials and choose the finalists. The committee interviews the finalists to select a winner.

The Teacher of the Year represents Missouri’s 70,689 teachers and automatically becomes a candidate for National Teacher of the Year honors. 

The Missouri State Board of Education honors the Teacher of the Year, state finalists and Regional Teachers of the Year at a banquet in Jefferson City. The Teacher of the Year awards are presented by the president of the State Board of Education and the commissioner of education. The Teacher of the Year and finalists also receive cash awards and other prizes.

The Missouri Teacher of the Year serves as a spokesperson and representative for all Missouri’s teachers. The following list is comprised of some of the duties that go along with the title:
  • Serving as an advocate for students
  • Working with state policy makers, business and community leaders, and others who shape public opinion to promote accurate perceptions of the realities of today’s classrooms
  • Working with pre-service teachers
  • Working at college/university career fairs to recruit young people to the teaching profession
  • Speaking with high school juniors and seniors advocating for the education profession
  • Using his/her voice to help shape education policy at the local and state level
  • Serving on state advisory committees
  • Serving as conference and workshop presenters
  • Serving as consultants
  • Attending a variety of state education meetings
  • Attending the National Teacher of the Year Conference
  • Attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama
  • Attending the presidential ceremony in Washington, DC to