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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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Cassie Cicchini

Cherokee Elementary, Clinton Township

"Until my son reached fourth grade and Mrs. Cicchini's class, I had never had a truly outstanding school experience. He was diagnosed with ADD in first grade, and every teacher always said, 'He's got so much potential, but he doesn't use his time well.' Every conference began the same way: 'Your son's a really nice boy, but... ' That was the point when all the negative things, I already knew, were splashed out there for me to be reminded of. And then I walked into Mrs. Cicchini's room, all prepared for the worst for our first November conference. 'Your son's such a nice boy.' Rolling my eyes, I said, "Yeah, yeah, but... " With a huge smile she said, "No 'but.' He's just really an awesome kid!" She spent 10 minutes telling me all the successes he's had in her class and went on and on about how much progress he'd made since the first weeks of school. She made me smile with anecdotes of his precocious behavior, which she thought of as amusing, while he tried his darnedest to get out of one assignment or another before finally giving in. It has always seemed disheartening to send my son off to spend his whole day with teachers who didn't necessarily understand what made him tick. Words like 'lazy' and 'disorganized' were how he was described by the people who spent more significant hours in a day with him than I did. Then Mrs. Cicchini came along and said he was creative and funny. She described his strengths and didn't worry about where he was lacking. She took the time to listen to my suggestions about what would work and what wouldn't, and she tried to understand the kid and not lump him into a category of 'normal.' She saw what his strengths were and built on them. She made him feel like if he tried his best, that was good enough. So he did. When in previous years he'd come to the conclusion, 'Why bother? It would never be good enough anyway.' Finally he began saying, 'Look how great I did!' Kids with issues aren't always easy to deal with, especially in a classroom where the bottom line score is all the matters at the end of the school year. Mrs. Cicchini looked beyond the bottom line number and found a wonderful boy who would have tried anything with the encouragement one outstanding teacher could offer. Bravo to the best teacher that this mom has ever met!"

– Patrice, Macomb

Dana Haigh

Carlson Elementary, Warren

"Dana Haigh is an exemplary teacher here in Van Dyke Schools in Warren. Her passion for teaching and learning is contagious! Dana has a demonstrated record of commitment and enthusiasm for teaching and leading within her classroom and outside of her classroom walls. Her professional responsibilities surpass the required expectations for teachers. Dana is currently in her fifth consecutive year as a school improvement facilitator, she is involved in the Van Dyke Teacher Leadership Program, she is a member on the elementary ELA committee – and she facilitates the first-grade ELA intervention system for at-risk learners. Dana has led and presented professional development for staff, which recently included the topic of guided reading. Dana is a member of the Carlson PTO, too, and regularly volunteers for their projects. Additionally, she attends almost every Carlson Family Night. She's served in the past on the following district committees: Language arts curriculum, math committee and report card committee. Dana's dedication to teaching and leading within the early elementary grades for over 19 years has made her an expert in her classroom and in implementing literacy standards. Her leadership roles in the building and district, as noted, are numerous! She supports and cooperates professionally with her colleagues. She is sought out by her peers and administrators as a resource for her organized and well-planned literacy centers. She is always willing to share her knowledge and use of research-based strategies. Dana was a member of the 2008 MISD Teacher Leader Cohort. She has engaged the community within her classroom and district by seeking out community resources and programs for family nights. Dana participates in the annual Van Dyke Foundation for Excellence Fundraiser and has written and received four mini-grants for her students. Dana demonstrates a genuine caring and respect for all of her students. Positive behavior supports and recognition are implemented for a safe and nurturing learning environment. Students are always wanting to respond, which shows the strong, trusting relationships she has with them. There are high expectations for the learning; students work productively and assume responsibility for their learning. Activities and interactions also convey high expectations for student achievement. Dana is able to monitor and adjust lessons as needed, and she often steps aside to let her students take on a teaching role as appropriate. She promotes and nurtures positive relationships with her students, parents and families. She makes it a priority to welcome her students and parents every morning, and she even voluntarily supervises bus-duty at the end of the day to ensure her students safety – as well as promote positive communication with parents."

– Tricia, Warren

Lauren Wesolowski

Prevail Academy, Mount Clemens

"Ms. Wesolowski is a kind, caring and very involved teacher who always takes the time to make sure our children are receiving the best education possible. My son had struggled with moving to a new school this year, as he is a mainstreamed autistic child who never had to transition to a new school before – and Ms. Wesolowski assisted us with ensuring we made the change as smooth and easy for Josh as possible. Ms. Wesolowski used every social story I sent in for my son, and let me come in to stay with him in the mornings for several weeks until he was settled into the new routine and school. I truly wish that every teacher was as open, caring and patient as Ms. Wesolowski has been with my son."

– Adriane, Clinton Township

Patty Schwartz

West Utica Elementary, Shelby Township

"Mrs. Schwartz is the most outgoing and loving teacher at the school. She has been with my son's third grade class for two years, and you can see how much the kids love her. This year in third grade, she got all the kids hooked on the Michigan and American Chillers series from Michigan author Johnathan Rand. The kids are having contests for reading the most in one night, who can finish a book faster, etc. These kids LOVE reading, and I thank Mrs. Schwartz for getting our kids to read and enjoy it at the same time. This is her last year at West Utica; she is retiring after 35 years teaching at the school. I would love to nominate such a wonderful person and teacher."

– Erin, Shelby Township

"Mrs. Schwartz has been teaching for over 35 years, and this is her last year. I think she is a GREAT teacher. She is the type of teacher I had as a child. She still believes in all of the old methods of teaching instead of some of the new ways, which I feel show children the lazy way of life. She also treats every child like they were her own."

– Tina, Shelby Township

Mrs. Pearson

St. Germaine School, St. Clair Shores

"She is my son's science teacher. He is in first grade; she teaches third and science. My son, Miki, talks about her all of the time – how she is nice, helpful, understanding and makes learning fun and interesting. I'm sure that he probably finds her to be attractive as well. He always wants to be in afterschool science class and only talks about what he learned in her class. I agree that she is down-to-earth, very, kind caring and a good-looking young gal. She treats everyone with great respect and is humble. Most teachers lack that – and can learn a lot from her."

– Katarina, St. Clair Shores

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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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