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Metro Parent Top Teacher Award Nominations 2013

Metro Parent asked southeast Michigan parents which educators have made a difference in their child's life. Check out all of the 2013 nominees!

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Oakland County

Karen Barney

Forest Elementary School, Farmington Hills

"My son had been struggling to read all throughout kindergarten. After being told he needed to repeat kindergarten and refusing, I was afraid it would make his year in first grade awful. Mrs. Barney got him the help he needed and had it all turned around by December. She knew what (to) do, and I owe all his success to her. Love, love, love Mrs. Barney!"

– Maureen, Farmington Hills

Jennifer Bissell

Northwood Elementary School, Royal Oak

"This is Ms. Bissell's first year teaching kindergarten, and she is doing an amazing job. Our school needed to add an additional kindergarten classroom after the school year started due to the large number of kindergarteners this year. Ms. Bissell had to come into this new role after the school year started and set up her classroom, get acclimated to her new position and learn a new curriculum. She also had to help her students adjust to moving classrooms, leaving teachers they had finally become comfortable with and leaving friends they made in those classrooms. She did all this with patience, love and kindness and has built a great rapport with all her students and parents. I am thankful for everything she has done to make my daughter's first year of school a successful one!"

– Crystal, Royal Oak

Michelle Bortnick

Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills

"Michelle has been helping my son at school and, additionally, outside of school tutoring. She shows him different online sites to help him with math. She has a great personality and has made learning fun for him. She is enthusiastic and always smilling. I can tell she loves her job and has helped my son grow in leaps and bounds. We love Michelle!"

– Rachel, Huntington Woods

Shaun Brewer

Hillside Elementary School, Farmington Hills

"I would like to nominate Mr. Brewer for top kindergartener teacher, because he cares for the best interest of all his students and others. He expresses learning through song and music, making learning very fun for the children, where it's easy for them to remember. Mr. Brewer is a great role model to the kids. I have the pleasure of coming to his class and interacting with my son and the rest of his classmates. I have a 4-year-old son that will be attending Hillside Elementary in the fall, and I pray he gets the same experience with Mr. Brewer as my kindergartner."

– Sheree, Farmington Hills

Jane Cannizzaro

Laurus Academy, Southfield

"Ms. Cannizzaro is an exceptional teacher. This is a lady who left a career in health care to take on a second career as a school teacher because of pure passion and love for teaching children. Ms. Cannizzaro is a tough teacher. She will not spoon-feed you, and when you are in her class, you may not always be a happy camper, because she is determined to bring the greatness inside of you out – and this is not always an easy task. This is why I have decided to nominate her. These are the type of teachers that produce our doctors, lawyers, supreme court justices, presidents of the United States, etc. Kudos to all of the Ms. Cannizzaros of the world – and kudos to all of the students who have survived them and went on to bless our world with their greatness!"

– Penola, Detroit

Stephanie Center

Mayfair Co-Op Preschool, Farmington Hills

"Miss Stephanie is a wonderful teacher and has a kind disposition with the kids. My son is very shy and tends to hang back. He has found a friend in Miss Stephanie. He really opens up to her and is so comfortable in her class."

– Nicole, West Bloomfield

"Miss Stephanie is an amazing teacher for a lot of reasons. Even after years of teaching preschool and most likely seeing a little bit of it all, she makes everything feel brand new and exciting for the kids and parents. Her enthusiasm for teaching and for her students is infectious and makes every day at school so much fun. She also establishes amazing trust with the parents, talking with us and making us feel like we have the best kid on earth. I have no idea how she manages to love each kid that much and then let them go each year. I'm so glad our family found her at Mayfair."

– Victoria, Farmington Hills

Carlos Chavez

Bright Loritos, Troy

"Mr. Carlos is the most energetic, passionate teacher I have ever met. He teaches Spanish to students preschool to fifth grade."

– Ernesto, Waterford

"Mr. Carlos is the best Spanish teacher in Oakland County. He really makes an impact in his students."

– Andrea, Keego Harbor

Nancy Dillon

Hillside Elementary School, Farmington Hills

"Aside from her loyalty and commitment to her students and school, Ms. Dillion's compassion and love for the children she works with is the kind of thing that takes your breath away. When my daughter had Ms. Dillon, she would often come home talking about a classmate with 'delicate bones.' This particular little boy was a foster child that had been removed from his home because he was being starved, so he was tiny. He couldn't climb the stairs and he couldn't go outside to play when it was cold because he didn't have enough body fat to keep him warm.

"Ms. Dillon rallied all the children together to make sure that the boy with 'delicate bones' was well-supported by his classmates. Every day at recess, he got to choose someone to stay inside and play with him, which was a highly coveted reward. The day he was able to climb the stairs for a fire drill instead of using the elevator resulted in a celebration by his classmates. My daughter would come home eager to tell us of the accomplishment of the boy with 'delicate bones.' I can only imagine the impact on him if his situation had been mismanaged, having already endured so much in his short time.

"It is because of Ms. Dillon's approach, example and beautiful heart that the little boy is no longer a victim, but a person with value, someone the other children viewed as a hero for growing stronger and making progress in areas that we all take for granted. The lesson that she taught her class that year is not in any textbook, and one that few of us would handle with that kind of integrity and compassion.

"Her heart knows no bounds, and I know that every single child in her classroom feels safe, loved and like the most important person in the world in her eyes. My daughter woke up excited to go to school every single day and came home bursting with all the things that Ms. Dillon taught her during the day. As the mother of three children that all have attended Hillside for kindergarten, I can say with absolute certainty that Ms. Dillon is one in a million and is long overdue for recognition for all that she has given to the kids that have the privilege of learning from her."

– Marquel, Farmington Hills

"Ms. Dillon is the best teacher in the world. She helps me read and learn math. She tells me I'm a Wizard at Wordsearch and to kiss my brain. When I'm having trouble with something, she says, 'Inch by inch, everything is a cinch.'"

– Rex and Blanca, Farmington Hills

"My son has been in her class for kindergarten and first grades, and she really knows what she's doing. He has learned a lot. I wish she could be my kid's teacher all through school. Go Ms. Dillon."

– Krystal, Farmington Hills

Elizabeth Forsythe

St. Mary Catholic School, Royal Oak

"Ms. Forsythe was our daughter's preschool teacher for the 2011-12 school year and then took a promotion and became the kindergarten teacher for the 2012-13 school year – so we have been blessed with her for two years in a row. Ms. Forsythe is so patient and kind with our daughter, as well as the entire class. Ms Forsythe just has this way about her, and all the children listen attentively to her and follow her directions. She interacts with the children in such a loving way while recognizing the different needs of each child. She establishes and enforces rules for behavior. She adapts amazingly well if things don't go quite as planned.

"She keeps the parents well informed regarding lesson plans for each week, and she is also willing to answer any parent questions whenever requested. There is wonderful diversity in the class, and Ms. Forsythe encourages the growth of each child's cultural identities. She helps to grow their independence and self-esteem while also nurturing their individual strengths. In conclusion, we feel very fortunate to have Ms. Forsythe as our daughter's teacher. We have watched our daughter blossom with so many skills throughout the current school year as her love for learning grows."

– Ruth, Ferndale

Joan Freedman

Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills

"Mrs. Freedman is an outstanding teacher. Not only is she the head librarian and K-4 language arts coordinator, she also teaches accelerated language Arts. Learning is fun in Mrs. Freedman's class with her creative project-based learning activities. The Phantom Tollbooth came alive for her fourth grade students when they created their own word market and digitopolis city in their classroom. Pioneer-themed books were reinforced with students creating game boards for their classmates based on books they read.

"Mrs. Freedman always takes the time to know all 550 students, what interests them and what will enhance their love of reading and learning. Many of her students' writings were published for last year's Jewish Book Fair. The impact Mrs. Freedman has on her students is evident in their love and devotion for her. Last year, her students planned a surprise party for her birthday. Her impact is felt throughout the entire school. She is very worthy of this award."

– Amy, Huntington Woods

Emily Freeman

Schroeder Elementary School, Troy

"She is the best!

– Jayshiri, Troy

"I nominate Mrs. Emily Freeman. She is an amazing second grade teacher and an amazing individual! My son is now in third grade, but has been lucky to have had her as his teacher two years in a row – first and second grades. She teaches responsibility and consequence all while still having fun – and her students love and respect her. She takes the time to listen to her students and care about them as if they were her own.

"She is a rare gem and an asset to our schools. She is truly a caring, compassionate person and shares that relationship with her students and parents. She always took time to answer any and all of my questions and concerns. She always communicated with the parents through emails, phone calls or meetings. She took the time out to speak to you and the student, worked with you if you needed that extra help guiding your child and made things WORK. She always gave 110 percent.

"Because of all of this, I believe that Emily Freeman deserves to be recognized as the Top Teacher. She is very loving and patient. She challenges her children and keeps them moving forward to learn. She works with each child at their own pace and level and inspires them to learn and to love learning. My son and I just love her. I hope my younger son is as lucky/fortunate to have her as his teacher in a couple of years.

"Mrs. Freeman is an awesome second grade teacher. She understands every child and their specific needs. She works with a child at their level and does not rush them until they are ready to move on. Not only is she caring and loving to each child, but she is the most kind-hearted individual I know. Nothing would be better to her than seeing a smile on one of her students' faces, knowing they accomplished something and believed in themselves while enjoying what they learned. So again, I nominate Mrs. Emily Freeman for the teacher award. She is the best and totally deserves it!"

– Jayshiri, Troy

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