Michelle Uptegrove, life skills teacher at Cedar Creek Elementary, was selected as one of six Kansas City Regional Teachers of the Year during July. As a Regional Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Uptegrove will compete for Missouri Teacher of the Year for 2016-17.
The Missouri Teacher of the Year will be announced during August. The state’s Teacher of the Year as well as all regional winners will be honored at a ceremony in Jefferson City during October.
“The pool of nominees was rich with stories of those making a difference in our schools each day,” said Dr. Teresa Tulipana of the University of Missouri-Kansas City who helps coordinate the regional recognition. “Your nomination, however, rose to the top as an individual who carries a passion for teaching, a dedication to the profession and a drive to ensure all students achieve success.”
Mrs. Uptegrove was named Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Teacher of the Year during April at a community reception hosted by the school district and the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce. An educator for 23 years, she teaches children with special needs at Cedar Creek Elementary. Mrs. Uptegrove previously taught in the life skills program and worked as a resource teacher for learning disabilities at Prairie View Elementary and worked for three years in the Blue Springs School District.
The Cedar Creek teacher shared that her teaching experience with special needs children began at age 10 when her youngest sister was born. “She has cerebral palsy, and I learned to bathe, feed and care for her,” she said. “As she grew, I read to her, taught her the alphabet, how to count and use her letter boards to communicate.”
Nomination forms highlighted Mrs. Uptegrove’s leadership skills, empathy and advocacy for all children. “Michelle’s passion for diversifying and including all students in the public education system goes above and beyond,” said a co-worker. “The pure love she has for these kids is admirable.”
Mrs. Uptegrove has also served as the district’s life skills collaboration host/facilitator, as a site-based team building facilitator, as Red Ribbon Week school coordinator and as a Student Council sponsor. At Cedar Creek Elementary, she worked in cooperation with Lee’s Summit Kohl’s Cares volunteers to create a sensory garden.
“I believe that teaching must always be based on partnerships as well as evidence-based best practices, interpreting formative data and making constant adjustments to meet students where they are functioning, both in academics and daily living skills,” she added.
Within the community, Mrs. Uptegrove has served as a volunteer for Special Olympics-Young Athletes; as a volunteer with the Girl Scout Association, assisting at troop meetings and making modifications for inclusion and positive participation for students needing extra support; and as a volunteer tutor for non-traditional students at Metropolitan Community College-Longview.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in education and her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, both from Avila University. In addition, she has earned certifications in learning disabilities; social, emotional and behavioral disorders; intellectual disabilities; and K-6 elementary education.