Albert Cassens Elementary special education teacher Josh Fark has been selected as one of Emerson’s 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award recipients.
He is among more than 80 teachers from across the St. Louis metropolitan area who are being recognized this year through the program as examples of truly outstanding educational excellence.
“It is always nice to have the affirmation that you and your team are doing what you think is a great job,” said Fark. “It means that all the great people who work in my room get to share in this award. The paraprofessionals and related service personnel who work with my class go above and beyond to make sure the classroom runs smoothly, and that everything is executed effectively. I look around and see wonderful teachers around me and am honored to be noticed among them. Being a recipient of this award is a great honor, but I know learning and teaching is an ongoing process, and I look forward to continuing to find new ways to support my students.”
The Emerson Excellence in Teaching Awards, now in its 34th year, is one of the St. Louis region’s most recognized teacher recognition programs. Emerson proudly sponsors this program as a way of helping the St. Louis community express their collective admiration and gratitude for their dedication to teaching the area’s students.
“Josh is an advocate for all students,” said Cassens principal Katie Bevis-O’Neal. “His impact extends beyond the classroom as well, as he organizes and supports the peer mentor program, and he can always be found helping at school-wide events. Josh is a role model for his students and colleagues and Albert Cassens is lucky to have Mr. Fark.”
Superintendent Dr. Patrick Shelton echoes Bevis-Oneal’s sentiments.
“We are fortunate to have an educator and advocate like Josh in our district, who daily demonstrates an unwavering commitment to providing exceptional education and promoting inclusion for not only his students, but for all students.”
Fark has been teaching for 17 and a half years and has been with District #7 since 2013. He spent eight and a half years at Woodland Elementary and is in his second year at Cassens. Since joining District #7, Fark has been a staple in the functional life skills program, working with students with multiple disabilities. He was also instrumental in helping to establish the district’s Special Olympics programming and volunteered for many years as a coach and advocate for programming.
Fark leads Albert Cassens in the organization and training of peer-mediated instruction and intervention. This program supports students with developmental disabilities with the opportunity to learn new social skills by observing and learning from typically developing peers.
Additionally, Fark is a member of Cassens’ Professional Learning Community Leadership Team where he supports and collaborates with other special educators and general education teachers to analyze data and interventions to support growth.
“I enjoy the relationships I get to build with my students and their families,” said Fark. “I love the challenge of taking students where they are now and helping them achieve something that they worked hard to accomplish. Every student requires something different, and it takes being a good detective to figure out what each child needs and how to motivate each child to work their best. This is a challenge I really enjoy.”
In recognition of his honor, Fark will receive an engraved crystal apple from Tiffany & Co., along with other additional tokens of appreciation from Emerson. He will also be recognized at the November 27 Board of Education meeting.