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Two local teachers win Teacher of the Year

Tara Shaw, a Lindbergh School Dis-trict teacher, is one of six finalists for Missouri Teacher of Year.

Cheryl Tentschert, a Mehlville School District teacher who is one of six finalists for Missouri Teacher of the Year, was surprised with the good news from district officials. Pictured, from left, are: Superintendent Tim Ricker, Buerkle Middle School Assistant Principal Mark Delaney, Tentschert and Buerkle Middle School Principal Scott Hayes.
Two local teachers are among six finalists in the 2003-2004 Missouri Teacher of the Year Program, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The two local Missouri Teacher of the Year candidates are Tara Shaw, a language arts teacher at Sperreng Middle School in the Lindbergh School District, and Cheryl Tentschert, a social studies teacher at Buerkle Middle School in the Mehlville School District.

Shaw is the Lindbergh School District's 2003 Teacher of the Year and Tentschert is the Mehlville School District's 2003 Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Forty-five public school districts across the state nominated a teacher for the award.

A selection committee appointed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reviewed the candidates' written applications and selected the six finalists last week in Jefferson City.

The selection committee will interview the finalists Sept. 11 in Jefferson City and select the new Teacher of the Year. Missouri's winner automatically becomes a candidate for national Teacher of the Year honors.

"Engaged in learning" is the only way to describe Shaw's pupils, according to a Lind-bergh School District news release.

Enter Shaw's classroom at any time during her 87-minute language arts class and you will find pupils debating, writing, publishing, discussing, researching and questioning.

She joined the Lindbergh staff teaching eighth grade English in 1998 after receiving her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In the five years she has been at Lindbergh, Shaw completed her master's in teaching at Lindenwood University, and her National Board Certification in early adolescence English/language arts.

She has also been nominated for Dis-ney's American Teacher Award, and was named to Who's Who Among America's Teachers. Shaw currently is working on her doctorate at St. Louis University, and was recognized by the Horace Mann Educator Scholarship Program as one of the top 16 educators in the nation.

Though she has received numerous accolades and advanced her personal learning to the national level with National Board Certification, one of the things that sets Shaw apart is her love of teaching and dedication to her pupils.

"When I meet someone who works in another field, I proudly proclaim: 'I teach English to eighth-graders.' Whether that person is a CEO or a police officer, I feel that I have the most important career," Shaw stated in the release.

She works to evaluate "every interaction, every lesson plan, every unit, to align with Missouri standards and district curriculum. More importantly, I reflect upon how well students are engaged and how much they learn." And engaged they are. While some pupils may cringe at the thought of staying in one classroom for almost 90 minutes, Shaw's pupils often groan when they are told to put away books or end discussions.

"... I also believe that individualized instruction is the key to student success,'' she stated. "Last year, one of my self-proclaimed non-readers looked up and proudly announced: 'Miss Shaw, this is the first time I've read an entire book.' Because he could choose books that interested him, he be-came a reader and completed four books.''

Before being named the Mehlville School District's 2003 Secondary Teacher of the Year, Tentschert was chosen Buerkle Middle School's Teacher of the Year.

"I'm so excited," Tentschert stated in Mehlville School District news release. "I look at this as a win-win situation. It's wonderful to make it this far.

"It would be great for Margaret Buerkle and the Mehlville School District to receive such recognition from the state,'' she added.

Tentschert joined the Margaret Buerkle staff in 1996. Her prior teaching experience includes stints with the Fox C-6 School District, Miriam School in Webster Groves and Queen of All Saints.

She is certified to teach Elementary 1-8, Language Arts 6-8 and Social Studies 6-8.

Besides making the dean's list all four years at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Tentschert earned her bachelor of science degree in elementary education and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

She later received a master of arts degree in special education from UMSL, earning Summa Cum Laude honors along the way.

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