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Top Teacher Award Nominations 2012

Metro Parent asked southeast Michigan parents to tell us which teachers have made a difference in your child's life. Check out all the 2012 nominees and see what moms and dads had to say!

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Denise Ottenhoff

Guardian Angels Catholic Elementary, Clawson

"Mrs. Ottenhoff is a veteran third grade teacher who has made school fun and accessible to hundreds of children. When she has parking lot duty in the morning, she SINGS to the kids as they walk in. When she teaches a reading unit about cooking, the class makes pancakes. When a kid is having a hard day, she gives him a hug. With her trademark Diet Pepsi in hand, she stops fights, teaches fractions and takes the kids out for an occasional extra recess when it's a warm, sunny day. Mrs. O has a special place in her heart for students who struggle with learning and tries every possible method at her disposal before deciding what will help each individual student. While she has a classroom before her, Mrs. Ottenhoff truly sees each of the children in her care as unique personalities – all of whom she makes sure to connect with each and every school day. 'I love my kids,' she always says, and that is abundantly clear to anyone who spends even three seconds in her presence. Mrs. Ottenhoff is a one-in-a-million teacher, and we are so grateful to have her right here at Guardian Angels in Clawson, Michigan!"

– Marylee, Royal Oak

John McDaniel

Our Lady of Victory School, Northville

"We would like to nominate Mr. McDaniel for Metro Parent's Top Teacher Award. Mr McDaniel has taught Sydney in third and fourth grades and Emilia in fourth grade. Mr. McDaniel makes learning interesting with craft assignments related to what is being taught and keeps the classroom fun with humor. He requires on-time completion of homework assignments and daily planners signed by parents. He expects proper class behavior on field trips. Mr. McDaniel encourages students to do their best on tests. If you do not do too well on a test, he says not to worry too much. He will provide additional help during free reading time, give extra credit assignments and stay after school to tutor students. Mr. McDaniel genuinely cares about his students. He sacrifices some of his own freetime, which he could be spending with his wife and daughter to attend non-academic activities of his students. He attends school sports and functions that his students are participating in after school and weekends. He has attended our dance recitals, volleyball games and basketball games."

– Sydney and Emilia, Northville

Didi Wainess

Bingham Farms Elementary, Bingham Farms

"Didi Wainess has taught kindergarten at Bingham Farms Elementary for over 30 years. Didi epitomizes the kindergarten teacher. She is kind, loving and funny and engages the children at their own level. Two of my three children have had the privilege of being in Didi's classroom. Because of her, they have learned to love school. It's rumored that she will be retiring at the end of this school year, and I think it would be a fitting tribute to her many years of dedicated service to our children for her to be honored. My favorite memory of her was walking into the classroom one afternoon to find my 5-year-old boy curled up in her lap. Mrs. Wainess looked up at me, smiling from ear-to-ear and said, 'He's just so darned cute, I could eat him up!' It was her evident love for all her students that made my first year as an elementary school parent so enjoyable. Knowing that your child's teacher loves your child and wants what's best for them is key to their future success in school and in life. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of children and adults who have benefited from Mrs. Wainess' dedicated teaching. I know that all of them would want her to be honored as one of the best teachers in southeast Michigan."

– Lauren, Southfield

Lisa Hermann

Levey Middle School, Southfield

"Lisa Hermann inspires the Southfield art teachers and makes us want to be the best teachers we can be. Last March 2011, she organized us to participate in the Inside Out Program. This was the largest global grafitti art project in the world based with and promoted by the artist JR. (The 2011 TED $100,000 winner) Lisa asked myself and the SPS art teachers to join her, and we pasted over 135 black-and-white photographs in the community of Southfield to create a conversation between our students and the community. The project turned out to be one of the biggest in the USA. The Southfield students since then have been asked to be in an international full-length documentary about the project. She presented with me at the Michigan Art Education Conference, and then traveled by herself to the national alternative conference this February to inspire alternative educators from around the U.S. to join in the Inside Out project. She texts me at 3 in the morning when inspired, coaches track, drives across town on nights after teaching all day to meet about curriculum, teaches workshops on the weekends, argues her passions with people who are scared to attempt such a project and shows her love for every student she sees. She began the art program at the Southfield Regional Academic Campus and worked here for five years with at-risk teenagers, and her imprint is still felt here. I am honored to call her my friend. There is no one more deserving for this teaching award. She is a leader who will laugh and cry with you and loves, more than anything else, the joy of discovery with her students."

– Molly, Farmington Hills

Lisa Lapko

Wood Creek Elementary, Farmington Hills

"She is awesome. She has a way of motivating the children to learn. She words things in a positive manner, even when the situation is negative. My daughter has also said she does not yell. My daughter said if one or two kids are acting out, they are the ones punished, not the entire class. Mrs. Lapko appears to be a kind, smart and creative teacher. She rocks! "

– Erika, Farmington Hills

Ms. Wetterholt

Heritage Elementary, Highland

"Ms. Wetterholt is the best all-around teacher my son has ever had. She truly makes learning fun, shares family stories that the kids love and is so attentive to the children. My son and her really bonded. He struggles with learning and always needs extra help, and she was always willing to take the extra time with him without making him feel like it was a burden. She also always kept the lines of communication open with me. Ms. Wetterholt was my son's teacher last year and she still will have him come down to her class for lunch every month or two just to see how he's doing. It's these kind of teachers that truly make a difference in a child's life, and this will be a teacher my son will never forget."

– Beth, Milford

Sue Gardner

Bussey Center For Early Childhood Education, Southfield

"My son is in special education, diagnosed with PDD, and only recently started to speak. When he started in her class, his tantrums were very bad. Sue has taught my son many things. He does not have a huge vocabulary (maybe 20 words). She has taught him to be more patient, and I see the change in him drastically. I know that she cares about him as if he were hers. She always makes sure that we know exactly how he is doing. I have had difficulty with other people and my son. To me, she is his MUSE; she will bring him out of his shell that he is in. She is a great woman and needs to be recognized for her years of teaching."

– Elaine, Southfield

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May 9, 2012 12:40 pm
 Posted by  Kristina

My son Jaxon is currently in Mrs. Ricci's Kindergarten classroom. She is so loving and patient. She challenges her children and keeps them moving forward. She works with each child at there level and keeps them moving forward. She inspires them to learn and to love learning. My son just loves her!

May 22, 2012 11:56 pm
 Posted by  looghe

My son had Wayne Janda for 3rd grade at Pinewood, he has got to be the best teacher he has had so far. His grades were great he excelled in math. I could not have asked for a better teacher. He is one of those
teachers who makes learning exciting and fun. If a child was having a hard time he goes the extra mile to help.

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