MSTA is honored to recognize Sharon Balzer as one of 15 members who were named 2022 Regional Teachers of the Year by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Committees comprised of education peers and key stakeholders from each Regional Professional Development Center (RPDC) in Missouri selected the 2022 Regional Teachers of the Year.


About Sharon

School building: Woodland Middle School

District: Woodland R-IV, Marble Hill, MO

Grade level: 7th

Subject: ELA

Number of years teaching: 25


If I asked your colleagues, what would they say about you? I think my colleagues would say that I am friendly and that I enjoy life and teaching. They might say that I am sometimes scatterbrained, and that would certainly be a correct assessment. I tend to change gears in midstream because I think of some better way to teach a concept, or I just think another way might be more fun and add to retention. But I would hope that I am an example of how to enjoy and appreciate the profession of being a successful educator.

Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself as a first-year teacher? I think any seasoned educator would tell a new teacher to not stress about the small stuff. It is important to take time to talk to students and to listen to them. The profession has always been more than just teaching a content area. However, it seems as the world changes, the importance of creating a rapport with students has drastically increased. This aspect of teaching is also one that adds to the fulfillment of the profession.

What is the best piece of advice another teacher has given to you? When I was completing my student teaching, I had excellent mentors. I have modeled my own style according to their teaching methods. Diane Werges, one of my mentors, had been having some difficulties outside of school, and I had asked her how she handled the problems and came in fresh each day to the classroom. She told me to make sure that I leave my own problems outside of the classroom because students have plenty of their own. This was her advice, and I try to emulate her actions in my own classes. My other mentors were running a pilot program with a dual level class. They were very hands-on, and each day was more like an exploratory opportunity than a classroom setting. The students gained knowledge so quickly and retained information so well that I try to use their strategies as much as possible in my own room.