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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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"Drawing upon the educational philosophy of Maria Montessori to 'educate the human potential,' Ann DeVore turns an academic education into an education in character. She always takes her students seriously and treats them as adults, teaching them the value of responsibility and how to make their education their own. Using innovative approaches, she has inspired students to design a peer-mediated conflict resolution program, helped students run a school radio program and newspaper, and organized monthly visits to a retirement home to teach the importance of community. Ann inspires an almost-impossible confidence in her students. In the seventh grade, she put me in charge of running the hot-lunch program for the school, which worked with local restaurants to provide lunches to students. I once was on the phone with the manager of a local Taco Bell, who could clearly tell that I was not an adult. He said he would only speak to an adult if we wanted to start a partnership, a message I promptly relayed to Ann. Ann's immediate response? 'If he won't deal with you, then he won't have our business.' And thus, a seed was planted: Regardless of my age, gender or any other classification, I should demand to be taken seriously. There were no limits to accomplishing great things. Her encouragement also extends outside of the classroom. When my family moved from Detroit to Little Rock before I started high school, I was terrified of beginning a new life. As my first time to be away from a Montessori educational environment, I was worried about learning in the new structure. Ann wrote me an email a few days before my first day of high school. It contained four bullet points: 1. You are Julia Fitzpatrick. 2. You are a leader. 3. You have your entire school community behind you. 4. THIS IS THE MOMENT! I printed out that email, taped it to my wall and looked at it every day for the next four years. I still carry that same printout in my journal as a reminder that I am greater than any obstacle I face and that I represent all the experiences and people that have shaped me. Many years have passed since I left Ann's classroom, but the lessons she taught stay with me. I remain in close contact with her, often meeting her for lunch when I visit my parents back at home in the Detroit area. My life's path since middle school has taken me through college, to study abroad in Egypt, to learn Arabic, to live in Jerusalem and work for a humanitarian aid agency, and now in graduate school for international affairs. I often look back upon those lessons of resolve and self-sufficiency I learned in Ann's classroom when faced with obstacles, remembering my own potential and that of others. Without a doubt, I would not be the person I am today without her presence and influence in my life."

– Julia, Livonia

"Ann is dedicated to being the toughest teacher these kids will ever have. She (and her teaching team) prepared my daughter for high school, college life and adult life by allowing her to figure out who she wants to be, as a person, while in middle school. After enrolling into a public high school (from a group of 12 in middle school at DHMC) my daughter had the self confidence, time management skills and academic knowledge for a smooth transition."

– Cheryl, Highland

"I would like to nominate Ann because she was an excellent teacher. She cared about the students and how well they did as to prepare them for their futures. She is very insightful and hardworking. She is very educated in the Montessori ways, and I think that Maria Montessori would be very proud of the work that Ann has done. She lives her life the Montessori way."

– Paige, Redford

"There are moments in a person's life that are life shaping. I was fortunate to have a moment that lasted four years with Ann DeVore, my Montessori middle school teacher. She did more than help shape my life; she invited me to dream and understand the world through literature, history, politics and many other subjects – not only as it was, but also, as I could imagine it being. My worldview as a middle school student is one that included a non-violent practice. It wasn't until my adult life that I would be able to reflect back and see my choice to study conflict transformation and peacebuilding in graduate school as one that started with a curiosity and a 'grand and lofty idea' of peace. I can recall sitting in a circle on the floor. Ann was holding a globe in her hand with no lines. She asked the group what a world with no lines would be like. It was that question that sparked my quest to better understand how lines and distinction came to be and what a peaceful world might look like. Ann DeVore is more than a teacher; she is a sage who plants seeds in her students that she nurtures with love, and an invitation to be and live out one's maximum potential. It's not information that changes the world; it's the questions that we ask of the world and ourselves. Ann taught by posing the question of and 'why not you?' to me as a student. In treating me as an adult, I could become an adult. Ann gave me the unique opportunity and guidance to help run a hot-lunch program for our school, as well as a snack cart. How does a woman break a glass ceiling? Her middle school teachers entrusts her, at 11, to run a program, work with outside companies, make phone calls, market products and provide a service to other members in the school community. She never flinched when I would report back that local businesses on the other line wanted to know how old I was, because she knew my potential wasn't in the maturity or quality of my voice, but rather, what I could produce and be apart of if given the right opportunities. We had a garden that our class would attend to under the guidance of Ann. It, again, wasn't until my adult life that I realized that the garden that we would plant and harvest every year was a metaphor for our life and work. The more attention we gave to it, the more it grew. The soil was a prepared environment for growth after we tilled it. Our classroom functioned the same way, because Ann was tilling us to grow information that we explored, not simply memorize it. Ann would never laugh at an idea; she would encourage them. Ann DeVore unleashed her student's potential by acknowledging they had one; she valued opinions and engaged students. She never spoke to us, but rather, with us. She was a teacher who lived amongst her students. Anyone who has been in a Montessori classroom knows that it's not simply a room, and there is more than class happening. It's the place of self discovery and endless opportunities. Learning with Ann is a process, where each day melts into the other, and the product is one that is evolving within me to now. Ann DeVore, for all that she is and all that she does, is the teacher who influenced me most in life. She taught me peace, created a safe community, made space to reflect, grow, nurture imagination and live out our potential. For those reasons, and the heartfelt gratitude that I extended to her and her years of service to others, I would like to nominate Ann DeVore for Metro Parent's Top Teacher Award."

– Nadia, Canton

Christina Del Pizzo

St. Michael School, Livonia

"Mrs. Del Pizzo has been a blessing to our family! Our daughter struggled in reading throughout first grade, and we were very concerned about her progress until she started second grade. This teacher has made a point to read with our daughter one-on-one every single day. Mrs. Del Pizzo even takes the time to email us with updates on our child's daily successes with as much enthusiasm as if it were her own child learning to read. Our daughter is tutored by Mrs. Del Pizzo after school once a week for free. She knows that we have made sacrifices to send our child to St. Michael, and we cannot afford private tutoring. She does not make as much money as a public school teacher, but she still offers her time without charging extra. I think that she deserves to be recognized for going above and beyond everyday. She is a remarkable, giving teacher and I cannot thank her enough for the confidence she has given us as parents – and our daughter as a reader!"

– Rob, Brighton

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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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