Missouri’s 2023 Teacher of the Year says as a young child, she played “school” with her brothers and with her stuffed animals. She took every chance she could to teach Sunday school classes, work at summer camps and babysit.

You might say that Christina Andrade Melly was meant to be a teacher.

Christina Andrade Melly, Missouri’s 2023 Teacher of the Year (Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)

“Teaching has just always been something that called to me,” she said. “I just love the feeling that I get when I’m working with people and helping them accomplish something for themselves. There’s nothing like it in the world.”

Andrade Melly is an English teacher at Ritenour High School in St. Louis County. She is in her 12th year of full-time teaching. Andrade Melly was also a substitute teacher for a few years and taught GED classes.

“I feel like finally I’m really hitting the groove of being a teacher, of having everything kind of in place at least to begin the school year,” she said.

Andrade Melly has hit her groove to the point that a selection committee chose her from a group of seven finalists to serve as Missouri’s Teacher of the Year.

She said she is the best teacher on the days she can learn from students.

“I think it just brings back the reason that we’re all here from teachers, school custodians, principals, parents, school board members, librarians, counselors. We’re all here to support the students and to make school what they need it to be, and to be a place that’s comfortable, and challenging and supportive, and all those things for them.”

What does she love most about being a teacher and what is the most challenging part? They are the same.

“The best part and the most challenging part is that every day, every hour of every day, in my job is different. Students are going to come into the door carrying whatever happened in class the last hour, or whatever happened at home last night, whatever happened on the field three days ago. There’s so much excitement that comes with that of not knowing exactly what we’re going to do, or where we’re going to go in a day. It also is so challenging to plan for all of those possibilities. Finding a way to make a classroom that works for all of those different needs and personalities and people, that’s the most challenging and the most exciting,” she said.

Andrade Melly is a product of the Ritenour School District. She attended K-12 at the district she now teaches in. She recognizes those who helped her get to where she is today.

“It’s not just my story,” said Andrade Melly. “All of the teachers who taught me as a student, as a colleague, all the students who’ve taught me, all the parents and the community members that I have had conversations with, all of those people have shaped me so much as a teacher and have shaped what I do in my classroom. I think that without those people, without all of those colleagues and all of those friends and all of those students, helping me become a better teacher and teaching me so much, I wouldn’t be where I am today. If I am here, it is because of my colleagues, my students, our community.”

Andrade Melly will serve as Missouri’s representative in the National Teacher of the Year program. She will be honored during the state’s Teacher of the Year recognition event in Jefferson City on October 17, along with the other finalists, semi-finalists and Regional Teachers of the Year.

Find out what she’s most looking forward to in her role as Teacher of the Year – and her message to Missouri. Watch the full Show Me Today interview with Missouri’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, Christina Andrade Melly:

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