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St. Louis College Prep’s Scott Clithero was recently named as one of 32 Missouri 2017-18 Regional Teachers of the Year.
Although he grew up in a family of educators, Clithero said he never wanted to go into the profession until he started tutoring athletes in college.
“I found out I had an ability to perceive what they were thinking and find a way to explain concepts to them and break it down in a way they could understand,” he said. “I enjoyed the challenge. Then I started thinking that maybe education is worth pursuing.”
Last year, Clithero worked to bring that sense of discovery and critical thinking into his math classes at St. Louis College Prep.
“I want to teach my students how to learn to learn,” he said. “How to think critically rather than to solve equations. Yeah, we are going to solve equations in my class but that is just the context for learning.”
Clithero, who has also taught at Confluence Charter Schools and St. John Vianney High School, said that working in charter schools had given him more flexibility both in the classroom and in his own professional development.
“Here at St. Louis College Prep, we have been able to be more flexible in meeting the needs of our students,” he said. “For example, last year we started a strong push to bring inquiry and problem-based learning into the classroom. We got the idea, brainstormed, implemented, and brought it to the students all within a couple of months.”
Clithero said executing a similar change would have taken much longer in traditional public schools. He noted that he also really liked the ability for any teacher at his school to get involved in multiple aspects of serving the students and improving the school.
“I can sit on the professional development team, or give advice to our Early College Program, or talk about what we are going to do with sports or afterschool programs,” said Clithero.
That flexibility has allowed Clithero to grow professionally, transitioning from a classroom teacher to full-time teacher coach.
“What I want to get to is teaching teachers how to use engagement strategies in the classroom,” he said. “The highlight for me last year was watching new teachers develop and grow. If it is something that intrigues you and has you thinking about how students learn, then it is for you and you should give it all you have.”
The 32 teachers selected from all over the state are now eligible for the state teacher of the year award.
The Regional Teacher of the Year process began last year in an effort to celebrate outstanding teachers from more areas of the state.
The Missouri Teacher of the Year for 2017-18 will be selected in August.
The Missouri Teacher of the Year program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers in providing a quality education to their students.