As the 2012 Indiana Teacher of the Year, Melanie Park understands that her year of recognition is followed by a lifetime of obligation. Consequently, she spent the 2012-2013 school year on sabbatical with the Indiana Department of Education. Her theme for the year was “Mission: Celebrate Teaching,” and Melanie worked to shine a light of recognition on Indiana’s outstanding educators. She visited over 900 classrooms and delivered speeches to nearly 4,000 people in her quest to uplift the teaching profession. In addition, Melanie had the opportunity to share a “teacher voice” with people like President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, Dr. Jill Biden, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, national and state legislators, and Bill Gates.

However, Melanie knows that her true power lies in the classroom because that is where she is able to develop meaningful relationships with students. As a result, Melanie will return to Riverview Middle School next fall to teach reading remediation. Melanie’s husband, Steve, also teaches at Riverview, and they have two children, Nathan and Maggie. The entire Park family strives to serve others, and Melanie feels blessed to be living out that mission in her classroom.