Metro Parent Top Teachers Awards 2012
Here they are! Meet five fabulous southeast Michigan educators who truly put the 'excel' in excellence – from band to special needs to science
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Ann DeVore, Middle School Teacher, Dearborn Heights Montessori Center
Middle school students in Mrs. DeVore's class know she has high expectations for them. But that's OK. This tough teacher is also their biggest booster, making them believe in themselves, too.
The common thread throughout the six nomination letters for Ann DeVore, a middle school teacher at the Dearborn Heights Montessori Center, was that she expected a lot from her students. "She's the toughest teacher these kids will ever have," noted Cheryl Miller, whose daughter was taught by Mrs. DeVore.
Miller goes on to say that DeVore helped her daughter gain confidence in her academic abilities not just through her teaching style, but also by teaching her daughter how to manage her time – and other practical skills that made learning and completing assignments easier.
Kay Neff, the head of the Dearborn Heights Montessori, who has known DeVore for almost 30 years, agrees, adding, "She teaches the student to be hardworking. I think she just has this profound understanding of adolescent kids where she's able to help them by walking that fine line between nurturing and pushing them to stand on their own."
In fact, Neff points out that DeVore was the driving force behind expanding the school to add seventh and eighth grades. "She is incredibly committed and basically created our middle school from scratch."
Part of helping kids excel for DeVore is figuring out what learning style works best for each individual. She gives as an example the hot lunch program, where students do everything from market research on which products to offer to answering "customer" complaints. "The money they earn pays for a school trip they take at the end of the year," says Mrs. DeVore. "I don't like it if they're just handed a bunch a money. It's important for them to understand the importance of earning their way."
When asked why she might have a reputation as a tough teacher, DeVore answers, "It's because I say 'no.' Or I'll say, 'Do it again.' Or, 'Is this your best work?' Most people don't do that anymore – they'll take whatever the kids turn in and the kids know that; they know when they're just sliding through. I like to ask them, 'What kind of education are you earning?' They know when they're doing their best. They're smarter than we are."