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Ozarks Life: Missouri Teacher of the Year dedicated to Fordland

Posted Date: 03/31/2021

Ozarks Life: Missouri Teacher of the Year dedicated to Fordland
Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 10:04 AM CDT



In many small towns, the railroad tracks are just like their younger generation - willing to head off for somewhere else.

But Fordland is unlike most rural areas.

“About a-third of our high school faculty graduated from Fordland,” Misty Grandel said.

Grandel, a Fordland senior in 1990, is now the senior-most Fordland teacher on staff.

“(She) could have left for more money,” Fordland Superintendent Dr. Chris Ford said, “but stayed in Fordland for the love of community, the love of the kids, and the love of the school district.”

“Being around them and impacting their future, and finding their perfect future, is exciting,” Grandel said.

And Misty had plenty of opportunity to make an impression with seven, different courses she teaches.

“My day is never the same,” Grandel laughs.

“Every time I’ve asked Mrs. Grandel, ‘could you maybe...’ she says absolutely,” Dr. Ford said about adding courses to Grandel’s schedule.

“I think its amazing because I’m never bored,” Grandel answers.

Misty teaching in Fordland is as predictable as the lunch bell.

“I am a third generation teacher,” Grandel said, “(and) my family homesteaded in this area. I grew up here; love it. Love the community. The small town is one family.”


And a proud family watching her claim the 2020 Missouri Teacher of the Year honor.

“She loves her students and they love her,” Dr. Ford said. “Misty is one of those teachers whose standards are high and expectations are realistic.”

“When you have a community who cares about their kids and invests in their education,” Grandel adds, “you can have success.”

Misty’s mission as the Teacher of the Year is two fold, small-town teacher retention and equitable access for students.


“That’s what I want from Fordland,” Grandel said, “any student will get a great education, and the education they need.”

Misty helped create advanced placement and duel credit programs for her school - giving those a path beyond Fordland High School.

“It isn’t just one track, we see a variety of kids with needs,” Grandel said.

That attention to education has helped Fordland become the top high school in our area last year according to U.S. News and World Report.


“Fordland is a great school and we have great kids,” Grandel said. “I’m proud to be a part of what Fordland is building.”

Since 1957, Grandel is the first teacher in the Springfield area to receive the Missouri Teacher of the Year award, and one of four from southwest Missouri. School of the Osage’s Laurie L. Sybert won it in 1999, Neosho’s Robin Montz won the award in 1988 and Donald Heaton from Jasper won it in 1977.