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SSD Teachers Recognized by Emerson

Dec. 19, 2022 - Lifting up teachers in the St. Louis region for their amazing work in the classroom is an annual endeavor of the Emerson Corporation. The organization’s Excellence in Education program recognizes educators in the St. Louis metropolitan area – from kindergarten teachers to college professors – who are examples of excellence in their field. 

This year, five SSD teachers were among those selected to receive the company’s Excellence in Education Award.

  • Marie DeProspero empowers her students at Rockwood’s Eureka High School with confidence, skills, and knowledge. She searches for opportunities within the community for students to volunteer or do paid work, and has helped them prepare for job interviews. She models critical thinking, problem solving and performance skills so they understand and can replicate organizational tasks such as conducting a business meeting. Every strategic step she takes is aimed at laying the groundwork for her students to have a productive academic career, success after high school, emotional and social stability, and a positive school experience. 

  • Melissa Duke is an upbeat, organized, and caring teacher who makes a huge difference in the lives of students, families, and colleagues at Bayless Elementary School. Her students have a variety of disabilities (e.g., autism, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities), so she designs individualized activities to engage them. Her projects and lesson plans are designed to stimulate their senses, teach them how to interact with the world, and achieve individual and group goals. Duke also is a nonviolent crisis intervention trainer, autism effective practice specialist, team leader, and a member of the Bayless Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports Committee.

  • Melissa Leibbrandt, SSD’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, is the kind of teacher all children deserve to have at least once in their lives. Her vast knowledge of special education, her love for students and learning, and her compassion for kids and adults truly puts her in a league of her own. A master of engagement, she provides support on lessons and assignments created by classroom teachers at Parkway Claymont Elementary School. She consistently engages students by discovering their interests and passions, then finding a way to tie assignments to something they love. 

  • Katie (Catherine) Reeves provides real-world applications of life skills for her students. Using the principles of continuous classroom improvement, she provides multiple opportunities for her students at Ladue Horton Watkins High School to demonstrate their skills in different settings. She must differentiate her instruction to accommodate a wide range of abilities - her teaching toolbox includes high-leverage practices, evidence-based strategies, and explicit instruction. These tools enable her to accurately determine student mastery of an objective related to critical thinking and problem solving. At HWHS, she is a department chair, case manager, new teacher mentor, student teacher mentor, and co-teacher for core subjects. She also participates on SSD’s area leadership team and transition committee, and is involved in curriculum, course design, and implementation for SSD students. 

  • Ellie White is a teacher at the Ladue Early Childhood Center who works exclusively with preschool students who have hearing loss. She is a mastermind at creating lessons that target specific auditory skills, creating activities that keep students engaged and challenge them to reach their full potential. Her therapy room is a welcoming space for all types of learners and contains materials that motivate each one. Additionally, she is the data leader for her department and a founder/key member of the District’s language committee that focuses on improving language assessment, documenting language teaching strategies, and reinforcing overall data collection for reporting in students’ individual education plans. Outside of SSD, White is an instructor at Fontbonne University in the Department of Early Intervention/Deaf Education. She has published a variety of articles on language and auditory skill development for children with hearing loss, as well as co-authored a book for teachers and parents of these children (Small Talk: Bringing Listening and Spoken Language to Your Child With Hearing Loss).

Each teacher each received an engraved crystal apple and were praised for their professional achievements and commitment to education.

Emerson is a St. Louis-based company specializing in global technology and engineering. A complete list of 2022 award recipients is available here.