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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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Stephanie James

Mt. Clemens Montessori Academy, Mount Clemens

"I would love to nominate my son's teacher and my co-worker. She has such a caring personality! She has a special way to make EVERYTHING she teaches sound like it is the most interesting subject. She also has a personal interest in the likes of the children. By coaching soccer and basketball after school, she makes physical activity important, as well. Not only do I believe she is a fabulous teacher myself, but for the last nine years I have listened to my third graders rave about having Ms. James the previous year!"

– Tara, Chesterfield

Aga Kasprzyk

Mt. Clemens Montessori Academy, Mount Clemens

"My third grade daughter had the most amazing kindergarten teacher. Ms. Aga is a dedicated, committed, passionate, intelligent, hard-working and loving person. She told us right from the start how our children were her first priority, and what she does encompasses the entire family. She welcomed siblings to the classrooms for special functions, encouraged parents to come in weekly to read, had a special birthday ceremony to celebrate each child's birthday from birth to kindergarten. She took time to know each and every member of the family – names and ages. She was often seen sitting working individually with children guiding them. She fostered the children's social friendships through setting parents up for playdates. She instilled confidence in each child that they were unique and special. She didn't just teach reading; she taught children to love to read.

"She had a gift with children with special needs – she was working on her master's (degree) while still finding time to create innovative lessons and (do) extensive prep work. My daughter's passion for art was definitely ignited in Ms. Aga's classroom. When I would come to the class to read, she would hold my infant daughter for me and rock her so I wouldn't have to miss out on the special times and school events with my oldest daughter. At the end of the school year, she presented each parent with a scrapbook filled with pictures of our child she had taken throughout the year – her efforts must have taken forever. She also presented us with a framed piece of (the) Project 64 artwork she is so dedicated to and a DVD of a slideshow of pictures to highlight our child's growth from the beginning of the year to the end. I still have all of those items and will cherish them for the remainder of my life.

"All of the teachers we've had at Mt. Clemens Montessori Academy are amazing, but Ms. Aga and my family had a very special bond. She so deserves this honor."

– Rebecca, Ray Township

Janet Kilbride

Jonas Salk Elementary School, Clinton Township

"Mrs. Kilbride was my daughter's teacher last year for kindergarten. I have always said that it takes a special kind of person to teach children that young. Mrs. Kilbride did remarkable things with these kids last year. She took scared little 4 and 5 year olds in September and taught them to be confident and independent. My child couldn't read one word when she started kindergarten. She finished the year reading at first grade level. She had some special needs children in her class. She handled them with the utmost care and patience. My daughter has a good first grade teacher this year. I thought about nominating her. However, her kindergarten teacher really stood out to me. She deserves to be recognized for the work that she has done."

– Carrie, Clinton Township

"Mrs. Kilbride is the most wonderful teacher. She is a kindergarten teacher and was instrumental in both of my sons' start to their education. She is loving, caring, nuturing and, above all else, patient. She never asks for any type of recognition, but she surely deserves it."

– Shalise, Sterling Heights

"Mrs. Kilbride is a kindergarten teacher at Salk Elementary. My daughter was in her class last year – and what an amazing teacher she is. She is so great with the kids, a great communicator with the parents, and my daughter just loved her. She really has a big heart and is exactly what you need as a first teacher!"

– Brandi, Clinton Township

"Mrs. Kilbride truly enjoys the children. She makes your individual child feel special each day. She is a dedicated teacher and mother. My daughter continues to visit her every day after school to share her day or to just give her a hug. At the end of the school day, Mrs. Kilbride opens her door for the children to meet their parents. She always has a giant smile and takes time to speak to the parents during pickup. Mrs. Kilbride left a special memory in my child's life."

– Colleen, Clinton Township

"She is amazing! Every day she goes above and beyond for our children. She has at least 80 percent of her class reading above their kindergarten level."

– Amanda, Fraser

"Mrs. Kilbride is such an amazing kindergarten teacher. She goes above and beyond on a daily basis for each of her students. My daughter absolutely loves going to school each and every day, thanks to the learning environment Mrs. Kilbride has created in her classroom. My daughter now know hows to read and write because of the wonderful teaching of Mrs. Kilbride. She inspires her young students to want to do their best. It is not uncommon to see Mrs. Kilbride working in her classroom hours after the children have been dismissed for the day.

"She is a veteran teacher who is willing to try new things and infuse the use of iPads into her classroom. My kindergartner recently told me, 'I love Mrs. Kilbride and like how she teaches us new things.' Mrs. Kilbride invites parents into the classroom so that her students get even more support and small group instruction during their morning centers. She is a wonderful teacher, and I feel my daughter is so fortunate to have a teacher like her that makes learning fun. What better way for my daughter to begin her elementary school experience!"

– Michelle, St. Clair Shores

"Mrs. Kilbride is not only amazing, but she is adored by all of her students. Kindergarten is a very tough grade to teach – some might even call them glorified babysitters. Mrs. Kilbride takes that challenge of making sure each child learns in whatever way is necessary. Not every child learns the same and not every teacher teaches the same, which is why Mrs. Kilbride's exemplery skills in the classroom should not only be recognized but used to help others in their teaching quests."

– Melanie, Clinton Township

"Our three children were fortunate to have had Mrs. Kilbride as their kindergarten teacher. They learned so much from her experience, caring attitude and devoted work ethic. In addition to being well prepared for first grade, they also adored her. Mrs. Kilbride created such a positive introduction into elementary school. She does an incredible job on a daily basis. She is both an amazing teacher and a caring wonderful person."

– Astrid, Clinton Township

David Kolbicz

Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Sterling Heights

"I would like to nominate Mr. Kolbicz for Top Teacher because of his dedication to his students. My son is accelerated in math (by two years) (and) has struggled a bit this year. Mr. Kolbicz is so helpful in making sure Jacob's head stays above the water. He in so in-tune with his students that he can tell when my son is having a hard time by his body language. He goes the extra mile to make sure that Jacob understands the material and even offers up lunch hours and (time) after school to help tutor him.

"He knows that my son's grades are very important to him and so he goes the extra mile to ensure that he understands the material. He has even given him back a quiz that he bombed to he could learn the material and retake it. I really feel that if he had any other teacher, he would be completely lost –which is very stressful for him. I know that Mr. Kolbicz has been dealing with his own issues, as his grandma is very ill, but he still makes time for his students. I wish all teachers had his dedication and aboslute LOVE for teaching. Thank you for your consideration of Mr. David Kolbicz for Top Teacher!"

– Debbie, Sterling Heights

Catherine Leix

De La Salle Collegiate High School, Warren

"She is a fantastic individual and has greatly assisted my learning."

– Brandon, Warren

Thaier Mukhtar

De La Salle Collegiate High School, Warren

"I would like to nominate this teacher because he is one of the hardest working teachers – through teaching the De La Salle varsity soccer team or keeping all his students on task. When one of his players did something wrong, he would get on them about it. In class he is the same. If you don't do the work, you would be called out and asked, 'Why didn't you finish your work?' The right answer was, 'No excuse.'

"He always taught us, 'In 20 years, you don't need to know who the Tutor dynasty was, but to realize you were the one that messed up, not your mom or dad.' Also, he said, 'You need to keep track of your work. No one else is going to do it for you.' History class may have been a scary class, always wondering if you did the work to your highest ability, but I always got work done to the fullest and on time. Mr. Mukhtar truly is a Top Teacher."

– Andrew, St. Clair Shores

"This teacher has helped me a lot, not only with my education but also as a person teaching me to be prepared, organized and also letting me know how the world is in reality."

– Chris, Macomb

Linda Russell

Masonic Heights Elementary School, St. Clair Shores

"Mrs. Russell is very caring and wants the best for my child. Emma is behind in her communication skills and reading skills. Mrs. Russell has gone the extra mile to help my daughter. I have been working with Mrs. Russell for ideas to help my daughters. And she has started sending home extra things for her to do so Emma understands and is doing great. I am very grateful that Mrs. Russell is my daughter's teacher."

– Lisa, St. Clair Shores

Grace Schmidt

St. Anne Catholic Grade School, Warren

"This is her first year of teaching, and she has done a wonderful job. My son is in her pre-kindergarten class, and he absolutely admires her and her learning style. She makes learning fun. I have tried to teach him letters over and over again, but because she has turned (it) into a dancing and basketball game of letters, he has learned to say them, write them and identify them in no time. He has even gotten better with spelling because of his ability with the letter recognition now. She makes everything fun for them, and they are not realizing they are learning. She definitely has a gift to teach, and you can tell it is never just about money, but it's about the joy of educating our young children. She most definitely deserves to be nominated for the Top Teacher Award for 2013 in my book, and I am sure the entire class of parents feels the same way."

– Shacara, Warren

Cory Sheridan

Ardmore Elementary School, St. Clair Shores

"This young teacher has taught my child more than just academics this year. He has infused many wonderful life skills, too. He stays late every day, responds to every email and or phone call promptly. He runs after-school programs for the kids – chess club, math club. He has a prosthetic leg from a battle with cancer as a teenager, but that didn't stop him from climbing many, many stairs at the capitol building on a field trip in Lansing (I was in awe!).

"He has a class websites that he updates every day to keep us parents informed. He started a blog page for the kids. He holds live debates in his class and Mr. Sheridan, along with another teacher, wrote some science songs to make the learning fun. As a mother of three, I have encountered many teachers. Mr. Sheridan is to be recognized for his gift of teaching. He stands out from them all and is a true blessing. There are so many wonderful things about this man. I hope you choose him. He deserves to know how amazing he is."

– Tricia, St. Clair Shores

"Mr. Sheridan goes above and beyond for his students every day. He comes in early (and) stays late to help them anytime they need. He has different clubs for them to join throughout the year. This year he has had math club where kids will spend time going over what they did in math that week and what will be coming up, and currently he has a chess club where he has taught them all the rules and how to play chess. These are all held after school. He has great incentives in his class for the kids to strive their best to achieve. He has made fifth grade fun for my son and every other kid in his class. They are so excited to go to school every day with him. I have seen a lot of improvement in my child's attitude toward doing his homework (and) studying and really giving it his all. Mr. Sheridan has really impressed the value of education on his students. I cannot say enough good things about him."

– Heather, St. Clair Shores

Michelle Susalla

Clinton Valley Elementary School, Mount Clemens

"My daughter says, 'She is a superstar!' Out of the countless teachers my children have had over the last 15 years, Ms. Susalla is by far the best. Always smiling. Always happy. Constantly encouraging the children. She is amazing with her kindergarten class. I work in the class with the kids (for) two hours once a week. I am amazed at how much the children have improved since the beginning of the year."

– Kimberly, Mount Clemens

"We feel that Mrs. Susalla goes out of her way to tend to each and every single one of her students personally. She's very involved and dedicated to make sure that all her students achieve their goals daily. My son started kindergarten at the very young age of 4 going onto 5, and we had our doubts of him being too young to even start with no previous education. Mrs. Susalla was able to make him feel comfortable and bring the best out of him. I feel that she understands the needs and wants from both students and parents and is a one-of-a-kind teacher and role model."

– Pong, Clinton Township

"Mrs. Susalla has been wonderful. My daughter has just loved being in her class. She is always so helpful and informative, even on the little things. She stays in contact with me and keeps me up-to-date on things that are going on in class. My daughter has grown tremendously since being in her class. What a great start to her education."

– Angela, Clinton Township

"Mrs. Susalla is my 6-year-old daughter Paige's kindergarten teacher – and she is the sweetest, most kind woman I know! She is very patient with my child and her class, which takes a special person to do with a class full of 5- and 6-year olds. She takes the time with each and every one of the 26 students in her class. I was very pleased at parent-teacher conferences because she actually took the time to talk to me about my daughter and didn't try rushing me out when I had questions, which she had no problem answering and discussing with me. Because of her, my daughter Paige LOVES to go to school, pretends to be her when she plays school at home – and she even tells me she wants to be just like Mrs. Susalla when she grows up and becomes a teacher."

– Nichole, Clinton Township

Patty Topalian

St. Lawrence School, Utica

"I think Mrs. Topalian should win this award because she is always there to care and help us out. Even when she was very sick herself and could not be in school this year, she helped all of the substitute teachers to make sure that we were always OK. When she was not there, her heart always was because she left us special notes that we would find – and it felt like she was still there with us during her illness. She always pushes us to be our best, and if she knows that we are struggling, she gets us the extra help that we need to get it. She never gives up on us, so we never give up on ourself."

– Logan, Sterling Heights

Renee Villaire

Sequoyah Elementary School, Macomb

"She is amazing!"

– Brandy, Macomb

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