Josh Fark smiles with his students. Photo courtesy of Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7.

EDWARDSVILLE - Josh Fark has received the Emerson’s 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award.

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Fark, a special education teacher at Albert Cassens Elementary, was chosen from hundreds of teachers throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. The Edwardsville Community Unit School District #7 (ECUSD7) Board of Education recognized him during their regular Board meeting on Monday, Nov. 27, 2023.

“Mr. Fark has worked in District 7 for ten years and has been a staple in our functional life skills program,” Andrea Grotefendt, Director of Special Education, explained during the Board meeting. “The qualities that make him a phenomenal teacher extend past the walls of his classroom. He works diligently to foster relationships with parents and to promote inclusion among students and staff alike.”

The Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes educators in the St. Louis area of all grade levels, from kindergarten teachers to college professors. Approximately 80 teachers received the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award this year.

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In addition to his daily work in the classroom, Fark leads the peer-mediated instruction and intervention program, which “supports students with developmental disabilities with the opportunity to learn new social skills by observing and learning from typically developing peers,” Grotefendt said.

Fark has also been “instrumental” in the establishment of the Special Olympics program at ECUSD7, and he regularly volunteers as a coach and advocate for the program. He is currently a member of the Cassens Professional Learning Community Leadership Team, a program that encourages collaboration between special and general education teachers.

Fark previously taught at Woodland Elementary. This is his second year at Cassens Elementary. Michael Cory, assistant principal at Liberty Middle School, joked that the middle school team has to work “really, really, really hard” to make sure Fark’s students are “even close to as happy as they were with [him].”

“Mr. Fark’s commitment to his students, school and the district makes him so deserving of this award,” Grotefendt added.

For more information about Fark's award, check out this article on the official ECUSD7 website.

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