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Rockwood announces grade-level teachers of the year

By: Jessica Meszaros

Three teachers from three different Rockwood schools got a surprise on April 2 when a prize patrol, led by Superintendent Dr. Eric Knost, announced the district’s grade-level teachers of the year.

The teachers were selected as the best of the best for their grade level. Each surprise – which involved flowers, balloons and family members – was livestreamed on the district’s Facebook page, facebook.com/Rockwood.School.District

The 2018 elementary school Teacher of the Year is fifth-grade teacher Dan Pozzo, who has served as a teacher at Westridge Elementary in Ballwin since 2012.

Elementary School Teacher of the Year Dan Pozzo [Rockwood School District photo]

“Most of my time teaching is focused on inspiration,” Pozzo said in an official release. “The world is a fascinating place to live, and I feel it should be exciting and exhilarating learning about it. Although we have a routine, I try to constantly surprise my students with interesting activities that get them moving and motivated.”

The middle school Teacher of the Year award went to Lori Kitrel, a language arts teacher at LaSalle Springs Middle in Wildwood since 2012.

Middle School Teacher of the Year Lori Kitrel [Rockwood School District photo]

“Over the years I have used phrases like ‘personal best’ and ‘my kids are the best in the school’ to hold my students accountable,” Kitrel said in an official release. “‘Personal best’ refers to me giving the kids my personal best on a daily basis. I ask if I’m getting their personal best as well. I tell my students I have the best kids in the school. Remarkably, they live up to this statement. My kids really are the best in the school when they walk through my door.”

The high school Teacher of the Year title was awarded to Lauren Sakowski, who has taught art education at Lafayette High in Wildwood since 2001.

High School Teacher of the Year Lauren Sakowski [Rockwood School District photo]

“I want students to think,” Sakowski said in an official release. “Demands created by the educational system impose a real challenge for teachers to move past the outdated idea of simply disseminating knowledge. I do not hand out answers, but strive to give students the tools for autonomy. Guiding them carefully through open-ended questions, urging them to be original in their work, I encourage students to reach inside and make connections.”

The next step for the awardees is seeing which of them will be named as the district Teacher of the Year. That announcement will come at the district’s 2018 ROSE Awards Ceremony on May 6.

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