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Ritenour High School teacher named 2023 Missouri teacher of the year

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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Christina Andrade Melly, an English teacher at Ritenour High School, embraces Superintendent Chris Kilbride after being named the 2023 Missouri teacher of the year on Monday at the school in Breckenridge Hills.

When Ritenour High School teacher Christina Andrade Melly heard there was going to be a meeting for seniors on Monday afternoon, she didn’t think much of it. But as she was walking to the assembly in Ritenour’s auditorium, she saw teachers who didn’t have seniors headed to the same place.

“At that point, I started to wonder if there was something going on,” Andrade Melly said.

There was — the assembly was a diversion. Her students, colleagues and district leaders were actually assembled to surprise her with the announcement that Andrade Melly is Missouri’s new teacher of the year.

Missouri’s commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Margie Vandeven, made the announcement. After receiving a standing ovation from the students, Andrade Melly got hugs and handshakes from a row of her colleagues before joining her husband, children and other family members onstage.

Andrade Melly, who is a Ritenour graduate, teaches English and is a speech and debate coach. She's the Ritenour NEA union president.

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Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Christina Andrade Melly, an English teacher at Ritenour High School, reacts after being named the 2023 Missouri teacher of the year on Monday.

After earning her teaching degree from the University of Missouri, Andrade Melly came back home to serve her community.

“I'm really up front with my students every year that I made a specific, intentional decision to come back to Ritenour,” Andrade Melly said. “I'm so proud of this community that I grew up in.”

Vandeven said that with the teacher shortage, it’s important for districts to encourage students to become teachers and come back to work in their schools.

“Our research tells us that about 60% of our teachers teach within 20 miles of where they grew up,” Vandeven said. “And so when we are able to see those kinds of success stories, I think that's an exciting thing.”

Andrade Melly is the second Ritenour School District teacher selected for the statewide honor in recent years. Beth Davey, a music teacher at Iveland Elementary in the district, was named teacher of the year in 2017.

“I'm so proud that I could show off our school and our district and share the amazing things that our students and our teachers and our community are all doing,” Andrade Melly added.

The 2022 Missouri teacher of the year, James Young, also teaches in the St. Louis area, in the Ferguson-Florissant district. Young attended the celebration for Andrade Melly on Monday.

Follow Kate on Twitter: @KGrumke

Kate Grumke covers higher education and the many school districts in the region for St. Louis Public Radio.

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