Teacher Voices Teacher Voices


“Some districts in Missouri are attracting great teachers — because of their reputation, their tax base, their test scores, their pay scale and their benefits — while others are desperately hoping to fill a position.”

“In terms of attracting new teachers and second-career teachers to the country-side, relocation costs, salary expectations and social integration issues are the largest barriers.”

“Teachers cannot thrive in their profession if their basic needs are not being met and if we don’t pay teachers adequately to live dignified lives. It’s very hard for them to live fulfilled lives, no matter how much they love teaching.”

District-level discussions and decision-making around teacher recruitment and retention oftentimes overlook a key voice: teachers. In the current era of teacher shortages, what ideas do the individuals experiencing the rigors of the profession first-hand have to better attract and keep teachers? In the following three essays, three 2019 State Teachers of the Year, each from a rural, suburban or urban school, share their perspectives and offer their ideas to an issue plaguing schools across the country.
Shelly Parks 2019 Missouri Teacher of the Year
St. Charles, Missouri

Shelly Parks, the 2019 Missouri Teacher of the Year, is a high school English teacher in St. Charles, MO at Francis Howell North High School. Shelly considers her greatest teaching accomplishment when students decide to join her in the education profession. Shelly is a recruiter of future teachers, an advocate for students who want to take AP courses but need support, a lover of cooperative learning, and a proponent of teachers creating greater work-life balance.

Joe Hennessey 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year
Guilford, Maine

Joe Hennessey is a high school English teacher in Guilford, Maine and is the 2019 Maine Teacher of the Year. Additionally, he was selected by his students as the Faculty Speaker in 2015 and 2018 and received the Yearbook Dedication in 2016 and 2018. Prior to moving to Maine, in 2013-2014, he received the Yearbook Dedication and was named the Teacher of the Year at Collegiate Academy of Colorado. Mr. Hennessey is a Graduate with Distinction in Humanities from the University of Colorado at Boulder and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Alhassan Susso 2019 New York Teacher of the Year
Bronx, New York

Alhassan Susso is a world-renowned educator, author and speaker who has devoted his career to transforming the lives of young people facing difficulties. He
currently teaches government, economics and personal development at the International Community High School in New York City. He is the author of a motivational memoir, The Light of Darkness: The Story of the Griots’ Son, which traces his journey to America as a nearly blind teenager and his trials and triumphs becoming American, while maintaining his deep African roots.

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