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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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Washtenaw County

Kimberly Gillow

Cornerstone Elementary School, Dexter

"Kimberly is a phenomenal first grade teacher. She instills a love for learning. Kids are excited to come to school and, most of all, she inspires kids to read – and they love doing it! As a parent, (I like that) she regularly updates us on their reading and math progress in regard to various skills. It is nice to know what my child needs to work on and what their strengths are.

"She comes up with such fun learning activities, and the kids don't even realize they are learning. My child loves getting a 'Hip, Hip Hooray!' note when he moves up a reading level, and the classroom climate is very encouraging. Kimberly also welcomes parent volunteers in her classroom to work with individuals and groups of students. She goes above and beyond for these first graders and I nominate her for Metro Parent's Top Teacher award."

– Charity, Dexter

Dawn Rahn

South Pointe Scholars, Ypsilanti

"I nominate Ms. Rahn because she is one of those teachers that you wish your child had every year. She is very dedicated to giving each child in her classroom the best education possible. The growth I have seen in my own daughter has been remarkable. Ms. Rahn is a very caring person, and you can tell she loves her Fabulous 5 class (that what she calls them). She greets all the kids every morning at the door, which they love.

"She has great communication with the parents. I have had concern with my own daughter this year and, because Ms. Rahn listened to me, my daughter is getting help for her speech. Any time I have had a concern with my daughter, she always listens and gives me great advice or guidance. She goes above and beyond to help our children. I think that educating our children is a team effort between teacher and parent. But when you have a teacher like her to work with, it makes your child succeed even more. I could go on and on about what a wonderful teacher she is, but when you see your daughter light up every morning when she sees her teacher waiting to say 'good morning' to her, it speaks for itself."

– Heather, Ypsilanti

Joanna VanRaden

Klager Elementary School, Manchester

"Mrs. V is the best! That's what all her students say. That's what all her returning students say. Because they all come back to say 'hi' to Mrs. V. We were so lucky our school tried something new this year. Our son was part of a trial, so his whole class had Mrs. V for both third and fourth grade. She has been interviewed by educators and TV news for her innovative work with iPads in the classroom. She inspires a love of learning and independence. And whenever I see her, I can tell she is just as excited as the kids are!"

– Lynn, Manchester

Wayne County

Julie Ames

Riverview Community High School, Riverview

"Ms. Ames always takes the extra time to support all of the children in her algebra class!"

– Michele, Woodhaven

Megan Atwood

Detroit Merit Academy, Detroit

"I would like to nominate Mrs. Atwood because she is such a sweet woman, and I am so happy that she is my daughter's kindergarten teacher. Back in August of 2012, I was a terrified mother, afraid to let my baby go into a foreign place. All the new kids and parents, all the change and all of the upcoming days of my child growing up. Our teachers practically raise our children, and I am happy that Mrs. Atwood is helping me raise mine.

"My slogan is, 'it takes a village.' One day, my 5-year-old was talking about something inappropiate – sex (I know, I know – sex! At 5. I am still cringing) – and Mrs. Atwood swooped in to tell her right from wrong. She later told me about the issue, and I was able to reinterate that 5-year-olds should only talk about sex to their moms and dads. Most teachers would have flipped out and reprimanded the child. I applaud Mrs. Atwood for handling the situation like a good mom would. She wasn't frantic when she delivered the news, so that helped me to stay calm.

"My daughter wants to go to school because of her teacher and because she makes you feel like she cares. Mrs. Atwood is always interested in me and my day. I appreciate her (for) making the big kid school transition for me and my daughter an easy one!"

– Bethany, Detroit

Denise Bassett

Cleveland Elementary School, Livonia

"Mrs. Bassett is my son's third grade teacher, and we are so grateful for her. My son is a handful and always has been, yet even with class sizes as they are, she has been so helpful with him and with me. So very patient, kind and helpful – straight from my son's mouth."

– Jill, Livonia

Linda Brock

Kerby Elementary School, Grosse Pointe Farms

"Mrs. Brock has expertly and kindly transformed an extremely diverse (both academically and socially) second grade class into a united family! Her consistency, dedication and love for her students has changed the entire dynamics of a very challenging classroom, which many parents never thought was possible. She is a true miracle worker."

– Karen, Grosse Pointe Farms

Joe Ciaravino

Parcells Middle School, Grosse Pointe Woods

"I would like to nominate Mr. Ciaravino for a few reasons. I have him for Algebra I, and he truly tries to help his students succeed in his class. When you make a valid argument about a grade you received, he tries his hardest to give you the best grade possible. He is always so enthusiastic and excited about whatever he is teaching. He makes math class a really fun experience while teaching you at the same time. I think Mr. Ciaravino deserves the Top Teacher award."

– Alex, Grosse Pointe Woods

Pamela Cronovich

Kerby Elementary School, Grosse Pointe

"Pam Cronovich is a rockstar at Kerby school. There's not enough room in this box to get into why she should be on your list. Call me; we can talk. Or just ask anyone who's child has had her. She's a true hero, and the kids love her. Tough but loving."

– Lynn, Grosse Pointe Farms

Catherine Curtis-Couretueo

Old Redford Academy Elementary School, Detroit

"I would like to thank Mrs. Curtis-Couretueo for being an excellent teacher to my nephew. She is so hard working and caring – always there for the students and their families. She puts so much into her job that it's so hard to just go unrecognized. My nephew no longer attends Old Redford Academy but always talks of her. He misses her and all the kindness and gratitude that she has given him in the past (she taught him in kindergarten and first grade). She is such a wonderful person inside and out. We need more teachers like her. She meant business and was so professional; all at the same time, she did not take 'no' for an answer. She also believed that 'can't' and 'no' should not be a part of the children's vocabulary. We would like to just thank her sooooo very much."

– Renita, Farmington

Kathy Davis

St. John's Lutheran School, New Boston

"Kathy Davis is our son's kindergarten teacher. She is an amazing person! Her guided ways of teaching through prayer and music help every child relate. Also, she is a part of the administration and a huge talent in our church choir. Not only does she do for our children, but for others, as well. Kathy reguarly visits the local nursing homes and makes prayer blankets for anyone in poor health. She truly deserves to be honored for Top Teacher. Please recognize Mrs. Kathy Davis, as we already have."

– Valorie, New Boston

Dwayne Dorey

St. Linus Catholic School, Dearborn Heights

"Mr. Dorey is a great teacher. He makes learning fun for the kids. My son loves going to school, and it is because of Mr. Dorey. He is one of those teachers that truly makes an impact on his students and inspires them to want to learn."

– Nicole, Dearborn Heights

Lori Elliott

Northville Christian School, Northville

"My son left his previous school due to learning differences that were not accommodated. When we enrolled our child in Northville Christian, we immediately found the support and commitment of Mrs. Lori Elliott who, within a short period of time, truly transformed our son's life. It takes someone with exceptional foresight, dedication and commitment to be a great teacher for children with learning differences. Mrs. Lori Elliott at Northville Christian School truly understands each child – and gives all that she has from her heart. Her enthusiasm for teaching is contagious to her students which, in turn, drives them to want to learn. She inspires her students.

"Mrs. Elliott, a first grade teacher, and Mrs. Windisch, vice-principal, immediately saw what our son needed to reach his full potential. They saw a very bright boy with a reading discrepency, which created much frustration for him. Our son is 'gifted' but also has dyslexia. I noticed a disconnect with reading in kindergarten, and it was not going away. My husband and I went to different doctors and specialists to find the answer and address his needs so he could gain the self confidence he needed to succeed in school. Mrs. Elliott offered to stay after class and tutor my son to help him with his reading. She not only respected his dyslexia and his learning needs, but she went out of her way to see that his needs were accommodated.

"As a direct result of Mrs. Elliott's dedication and work, I have noticed a positive change in my son's behavior and self-esteem. He wakes up in the morning wanting to learn and can't wait to get to school. He is eager to learn and read. He can't wait to come home and read me a book! He loves going to school. He says, 'I don't feel anxious or frustrated at my new school. Everyone is so loving and nice here. They get me.' Mrs. Elliott fully understands and respects each child as an individual. It takes an extraordinary teacher to take the time to understand and be able to see a child's learning differences and equally invaluable to be able to accommodate a child's learning needs and inspire them. This has allowed my child to flourish.

"Only by embracing and nurturing these gifted children can we hope to create more Henry Fords, Thomas Edisons, Steve Jobses, Richard Bransons and Walt Disneys (all of whom had dyslexia). Teachers like Mrs. Elliott continue to bring more amazing discoveries to our world and our future. Teachers like Mrs. Elliott can and do have a huge impact to change our world through our children."

– Anonymous

Sandy Ewasek

Plymouth-Canton Montessori School, Canton

"I don't even know where to begin. Mrs. Ewasek is not just a teacher; she is an inspiration. Admittedly, my children are young, so I don't have decades of experience with schools and teachers. But what I do know is that this woman goes above and beyond the normal 'call of duty.'

"At the beginning of the school year, she meets with the parents as a group to tell us how excited she is to begin the school year and get to know 'our' kids (as she calls them!). She also makes it known that her door is always open to concerns/questions – except when she is with the kids. She makes it clear that during school hours is her time to teach and engage with the students, and she would prefer waiting until all students are dismissed before answering questions. She also makes certain that all parents have her home and cell phone numbers so that they may contact her at any time (but preferably before 9 p.m., she says!).

"Mrs. Ewasek taught my daughter last year and is currently teaching my son. In just five months, she taught both of my children to read. She also allows the kids to call home with her cell phone to tell mom and dad that they read their first book. What an exciting event that is. Unfortunately, I missed both calls from both kids, but I still have the saved messages to remember.

"Sometimes when a new student comes in mid-year, they have a tough time adjusting. I have seen such cases (as I volunteer in the classroom), and the manner that she handles these children is remarkable. I have seen her sitting on the floor holding and rocking children to help them feel comforted. I would also like to note that she calls parents on a pretty regular basis just to check in and report some of the things that go on in the classroom. I have also received calls 'just making sure everything is OK at home' because my son was having an off week. He ended up having strep throat so he was not acting like his usual self!

"She has even noticed things about my children that I hadn't even realized. For example, my son seems to mellow out when he's outside. I could probably go on and on forever giving examples of how Mrs. Ewasek goes above and beyond. I just believe if we had more teachers that truly cared for our children the way that she does, kids would love learning and going to school."

– Stacyee, Northville

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