Jennifer Spiegel, who teaches English language arts at Antioch Middle School, is one of six teachers honored in the metro as a Regional Teacher of the Year and has the opportunity to compete for Missouri Teacher of the Year for the 2019-20 school year.

The Missouri Teacher of the Year will be announced Friday, Aug. 2, at a luncheon at the Grand Street Cafe and will be honored at a ceremony in Jefferson City in October along with all Regional Teachers of the Year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducts the Missouri Teacher of the Year program.

According to DESE, Spiegel’s nomination rose to the top as an individual who carries a passion for teaching, a dedication to the profession, and a drive to ensure all students achieve success, according to a district press release.

Spiegel has been a teacher for 10 years, five of those with NKC Schools. She was inspired to pursue a teaching career by one of her middle school teachers. She observed how the teacher was able to motivate and get the best out of her students.

Spiegel said working with students is most rewarding.

“It is by far my work with student mental health that is my best contribution to education. I was inspired by a former student to begin a student mental health group that meets twice a week after school to discuss issues pertinent to middle school development. I will continue to work helping to cultivate a positive culture and student leaders within my school by promoting healthy outlets for students to express themselves and offer a safe place for students and parents to seek help.”

Spiegel said the group, called The Vine, has helped more than 100 students in three years. She also partners with a regional program called REbel, which looks at challenges middle school females face. In five years, these two groups have impacted more than 4,500 students.