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Shelly Parks Named 2019 Missouri Teacher of the Year
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, August 29, 2018 - Shelly Parks has been named 2019 Missouri Teacher of the Year. Parks becomes the 50th Missouri Teacher of the Year since the program began in 1957 and joins 2006 winner Girard "Jerry" Thornton Jr. as the second recipient to come from the Francis Howell School District.

In 16 years at Francis Howell North High School, Parks has transformed the learning experiences for thousands of students.

"When you step into Mrs. Parks' classroom, you know immediately that the culture and climate is one of high expectations and collaboration," said Francis Howell North Associate Principal Dr. Kathryn Greer. "Mrs. Parks understands that relationships with her students are the key."

Parks has worked as an English language arts teacher at Francis Howell North since 2002, where she has taught English II, English III, honors American literature, creative writing, novel, advanced placement language and composition, and advanced placement literature and composition at different points throughout her tenure. She has served as the English language arts department chair since 2009 and has sponsored student council since 2003.

"Because of her passion for education and her dedication to personal growth, [Mrs. Parks] continues to be the most impactful teacher she can be," said Emily Pagano, a former student of Parks and now current English language arts teacher at Fort Zumwalt East High School. "She leads by example, encouraging her colleagues to be the best teachers for their students as well. Her passion for teaching is contagious, and her positive impact is widespread."

Parks started her career at Elsberry (Mo.) High School (Elsberry R-II) in January 2002 after obtaining her bachelor's degree in English from Harding (Ark.) University in 2001. After transitioning to Francis Howell North in August 2002, she eventually earned a master's degree in secondary education/English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2007.

But for Parks, every lesson plan has been centered around one thing: student engagement.

"I believe every student has a voice and deserves the chance to be able to use it with an authentic audience," Parks said. "I believe when students are given choice, engagement is a given. When all sides of an argument are presented, we show respect and give dignity to differing opinions from our own. Words and voices can initiate change."

YouthBuild Participants Visit Aquarium Construction Site at St. Louis Union Station
Participants from SLATE's YouthBuild program and SLATE staff visited the construction site of the City's first Aquarium located at St. Louis Union Station and participated in a presentation prepared by Shawn Brinker, Project Manager at McCarthy Construction. Photo courtesy Amy Lesmeister
YouthBuild Participants Visit Aquarium Construction Site at Saint Louis Union Station
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, August 5, 2018 - Five participants from SLATE's YouthBuild program and SLATE staff recently visited the construction site of the City's first Aquarium located at St. Louis Union Station and participated in a presentation prepared by Shawn Brinker, Project Manager at McCarthy Construction. This visit is the first in a series planned by SLATE aimed to encourage participants lacking work experiences to consider careers in construction trades.

McCarthy is a lead contractor of the Aquarium and works alongside property owner, Bob O'Loughlin of Lodging Hospitality Management, to develop Union Station into a regional entertainment destination. With this and many other large construction projects coming soon to the City of St. Louis, unemployed individuals have a unique opportunity to learn construction trades and obtain industry certifications free of charge, get paid while they learn, and enjoy meaningful careers that could last them a lifetime.

Because of its significant costs, roughly $300 million, Union Station construction project is seeking support from public funding and, therefore, will be subject to monitoring, as outlined by the City Ordinance 69427. The Ordinance sets workforce diversity goals for the City's construction projects using public funding. SLATE has been entrusted to track these numbers and help contractors meet and exceed their diversity goals. SLATE's partnership with McCarthy improves the employment rate for the City of St. Louis and sets best practices for workforce inclusion for the region at large.

"McCarthy is proud to collaborate with SLATE on our projects in the St Louis region with a goal of attracting diverse talent to our industry. Workforce development is a key focus for McCarthy and SLATE is a natural partner in that endeavor," said Shawn Brinker.

With contactors and labor unions ready to hire diverse workers, SLATE's YouthBuild participants are among the prime candidates to choose careers in construction as pathways to prosperity. Now that both YouthBuild and the Construction Intake Center are housed at the SLATE office on Market Street, young participants of SLATE programs enjoy immediate access to construction careers. SLATE's full-time Construction Intake Liaison, Armand Paulet, maintains strong relationships with construction contractors and labor unions, and offers young men and women career options normally unavailable to them.

Missouri Students Win Big at National SkillsUSA Competition
ST. LOUIS, MO, (, July 8, 2018 - Nearly 300 Missouri high school and college students joined more than 6,000 students from around the country in Louisville, Kentucky, June 25-30 for the SkillsUSA 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference, the world's largest showcase of skilled trades.

The students competed against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in fields such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assistance and culinary arts.

Missouri students brought back a total of 30 first-, second- and third-place medallions, and 106 placed in the top 10 against students from all 50 states and two U.S. territories.

"Missouri's success at the national level is a testament to our educators' passion of ensuring our students graduate job-ready day one," said Joey Baker, SkillsUSA Missouri's State Executive Director. "Our students graduate with the workplace, personal and technical skills necessary to be successful in college or their chosen careers."

Dr. Roger Dorson, interim commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said, "Congratulations to these students, not only for their strong finish in competition, but for honing their craft to such a high degree. We are proud of what they have accomplished on the state and national stages."

SkillsUSA is a nonprofit partnership of students, instructors and industry that helps ensure the U.S. has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. Founded in 1965 and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the association serves more than 400,000 member students and instructors each year in middle schools, high schools and colleges. SkillsUSA programs cover 130 trade, technical and skilled service occupations. The programs are integrated into career and technical education through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics.

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