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Park Hills woman one of state’s top 10 teachers

FREDERICKTOWN — A local teacher has been named among the Missouri State Teachers Association’s list of Top 10 Under 10.

The list highlights some of Missouri’s best teachers who have been teaching for less than 10 years.

Tara Gann, who lives in Park Hills and has been teaching at Fredericktown for the past five years, was named to the list.

Gann knew she had been nominated to the list, as well as thousands of others. She was honored just to be nominated and was shocked when she was picked as one of the 10.

“I think I just about fell off my couch in shock,” she said.

Before she completed her degree, Gann worked at Fredericktown as a substitute and in-school suspension instructor for four years.

She taught at Potosi one year but came back to Fredericktown, where for the last five years she has been teaching history to kindergarten through 12th graders at the alternative school, Fredericktown-Off-Site-School which is 10 miles from Fredericktown.

She said Fredericktown has a couple boys’ residential homes and they go to the alternative school until they can be brought up to academic level or be readied for traditional public school. She estimates at least 75 percent of her students have IEPs or Individualized Education Programs.

“I really enjoy it,” she said. “It’s K-12 which makes for an interesting day.”

She said it has its challenges but it’s a perfect fit for her. She likes to see the progress in her students and she “prefers to see the promise in her students rather than the problems.”

She believes the alternative school has been successful and good for students.

Gann is a member of the district’s Professional Development Committee; Salary Committee and a legislative chair and past president of CTA/CARE. She is a creator/chairperson of the district’s Special Recognition Committee, which recognizes four employees each month and has a newsletter.

She does after school tutoring three or four days a week. She also has a CDL license and drives the bus for her building’s field trips.

She is on MSTA’s Southeast Region’s Board of Directors and is running unopposed for president-elect for the 2011-2012 school year. She attends Capitol days in Jefferson City where she talks to area legislators about teachers and MSTA concerns. She just recently attended this year’s event.

She was also just picked to be a speaker at a two-day MSTA conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.

She said Fredericktown may not be the highest paying school district but it has a wonderful administration. She feels like the administration has the students’ and teachers’ best interest at heart when they make decisions.

 “They are always interested in our input,” she said.

Outside of work, she is married to Bill, who is currently going to college. They have a 16-month-old son, Owen.

She said her husband is her rock in everything she’s been able to do. To have success, you have to have people in your life who push you. She said Jamie Warden and Patti Norton push and inspire her.

She works on the Relay for Life Committee, chairing entertainment and activities for and running Facebook pages for the St. Francois County and Madison/Iron counties’ Relays.

Elizabeth Simmons, who teaches at Viburnum High School, was also named to the list. She has been a teacher for two years.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at

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