Springfield Public Schools recognizes four Drury graduates as Teacher of the Year finalists 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 8, 2019 — Drury University’s commitment to outstanding teacher education was affirmed recently as Springfield Public Schools announced its 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year finalists. Four out of the five award finalists are graduates of Drury’s School of Education and Child Development.

Selected from 171 nominations, all five finalists will be recognized Monday, April 15 during the Teacher Appreciation Banquet, with one chosen as the Teacher of the Year to be announced at the conclusion of the event.

One finalist earned an undergraduate degree from Drury’s traditional day school, while two others earned master’s degrees from Drury’s College of Graduate Studies. A fourth earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Drury. The four teachers are:

  • Shari Balla – A teacher in the Wonder Years classroom at York Elementary, Balla earned her Master’s in Education from Drury in 2006.
  • Courtney Dameron – A family and consumer science teacher at Hillcrest High School, Dameron earned her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Drury in 2013.
  • Audra Uzzell – A teacher in the Springfield Scholars program at the Phelps Center, Uzzel earned her B.A. in Elementary Education from Drury in 2007. Uzzell was previously a Teacher of the Year finalist in 2018. 
  • Kevin Zimmerman – An art teacher at Harrison Elementary, Zimmerman earned his B.A. in Fine Arts and Secondary Education from Drury in 2007, and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction in 2010. Zimmerman was previously a Teacher of the Year finalist in 2017.

“All of us in the School of Education and Child Development are proud of our alumni selected as Springfield Public Schools’ 2019-2020 finalists for Teacher of the Year,” says Dr. Shannon Cuff, dean of Drury’s School of Education and Child Development. “This outstanding recognition exemplifies the heart, passion, knowledge, and dedication these teachers bring to the classroom every day. These characteristics are the foundation of the mission and vision of our teacher education programs, and it is exciting to see them acknowledged in this impressive group of educators.”

Central High School English language arts teacher Beth McIntyre is the fifth finalist. Nominated teachers submit an essay describing their philosophy of teaching, which a selection committee uses to choose candidates for face-to-face interviews. To be eligible, a teacher must have worked for at least four years at SPS. Read more about the finalists at 

Drury’s School of Education and Child Development prepares highly effective teachers and leaders for work in schools throughout the Ozarks and beyond. The school offers various teacher education programs to support learners in all stages of life. These include traditional undergraduate options, as well as evening and online tracks offered at Drury’s Springfield and St. Robert campuses. For teachers looking to take their professional skills to the next level, Master in Education programs are offered by Drury’s College of Graduate Studies.

For more information about undergraduate and graduate education programs at Drury, visit:


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