If her students ask about it, Meghan Menchella will tell them what the signs around her room mean. And the crown sitting on the top shelf by her desk.
First, she was named Crestview Middle
Teacher of the Year. Then Rockwood School District grade-level teacher of the year. Then Teacher of the Year for the whole district. Then one of 35 regional Teacher of the Year honorees in the state of Missouri.
"It's been a really fun and exciting time," said Menchella, who teaches eighth-grade U.S. history. "It's exciting that I get to brag about my kids, how great our district is and how great our school is."
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Teacher of the Year program
recognizes the contributions of classroom teachers and the roles they play in supporting student development.
Crestview Principal Dr. Gary Jansen said part of what sets Menchella apart is the attention she pays to the whole student in addition to academics.
"She is tireless in her pursuit of making sure all of her kids grow academically and as people," Jansen said. "She has an uncanny ability to connect with kids and, because of those strong relationships, the kids have a greater interest in wanting to hear about the content she wants to share. They begin to grow that same love of history."
Shrutika Singh, a freshman at Lafayette High
who was in Menchella's class last year, said she liked the way Menchella was able to relate to her outside of the classroom setting.
"I had very serious conversations with her and, generally, those tend to be awkward when you're talking to an adult that's not your parent," Singh said. "But no conversation I've ever had with her turns out to be awkward."
DESE will announce the finalists for this year's honor Monday, Aug. 26, with the recipient named soon after.
"I strongly believe that all kids can learn. There is always something new to learn," said Menchella, a Rockwood graduate. "I want to see them make progress in my class, but I also want to encourage them to learn outside the academic sphere and become a well-rounded kid who cares, who is kind, motivated and has gained knowledge and become a better citizen through U.S. history along the way."