Area school districts named their 2019 teachers of the year this spring, selected from among the teachers of the year at school buildings around the district.

The district winners will now be part of the Missouri Teacher of the Year program. The state finalists and the winner will be announced early next school year.


Alisa Skluzacek

Skluzacek, a kindergarten teacher at Fairmount Elementary, is the Independence School District Teacher of the Year. She is completing her fourth year at Fairmount, as she joined the district after graduating from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The first time she walked into the Fairmount building, she said, it felt like home.

“We truly are a family at Fairmount. This family has taught me what true support and love really looks and feels like, and I think that reflects in my teaching.”

Skluzacek said she most enjoys watching her students experience school for the first time and succeeding together a class.

“It’s an energy level you can’t explain,” Fairmount principal Jeff Anger said. “You walk in her classroom, and it’s like a mother duck with all of her little ducklings, and it’s truly magical.”

Diane Goldsworthy, reading coach at Benton Elementary, is the district's Classified Employee of the Year.


Darcie Dreher

Dreher a social studies teacher at Moreland Ridge Middle School with 17 years teaching experience, is the Blue Springs School District Teacher of the Year. Dreher has taught at Moreland Ridge two years.

“It was not something I was really prepared for; it's overwhelming, the feeling,” Dreher said. “It's extremely humbling. I'm only here because of my amazing coworkers; I'm only as good as the people around me.”

Dreher earned her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Missouri in 2002 and earned her master’s in education from Baker University in 2006.

“Her passion for teaching and working with students is evident from the moment you first meet her,” Moreland Ridge principal Kevin Grover said. “Her classroom is an interactive environment of activities and lessons with an emphasis on her students. Not only does she assist students in their academics, she also strives to help them navigate the many challenges that come with being a middle school student.”


Michelle Brooker

Brooker, a second grade teacher at Indian Trails Elementary, is the Fort Osage School District Educator of the Year. A Fort Osage alum, Brooker began teaching in 2011 after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University. She taught first grade for six years before moving to second grade in 2017.

Brooker is a member of the Fort Osage Community Educators Association and has served as their treasurer since 2016, and she has served on the district's science and social studies content teams.

“My whole life, I knew I was going to be a teacher,” Brooker said. “I wanted to have the power to positively influence other people and to quite possibly leave a long lasting impression.”

JulieAnne Dunlap, custodian in the facilities department, is the Support Staff Employee of the Year.

– Compiled by Mike Genet