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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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Julie Foust

Ferry Elementary School, Grosse Pointe Woods

"Mrs. Foust is an elementary reading specialist. She sees dozens and dozens of kids over a weeks time at Ferry Elementary. She not only teaches children with reading deficiencies (some severe) to read; she teaches children who, over a short period of time, develop a passion for reading. Mrs. Foust has real strategies to enchant and challenge even the most difficult child. Mrs. Foust is caring and considerate. She is organized and passes on this organization to children who, without her,  would struggle in many subjects. She makes kids feel proud of what they have accomplished. Mrs. Foust is the best teacher that any of my five children have ever had."

– Renee, Grosse Pointe Woods

Ryan Francis

Stephen T. Mason Elementary School, Grosse Pointe Woods

"My son had Mr. Francis for third and fourth grades, and loved every minute. Mr. Francis has an ingenious knack of devising games that inspire kids and motivate them to learn. He makes everything fun – and kids learn better that way. Mr. Francis worked hard to help our son increase his confidence, which was truly the gift we are most grateful for. Our son came out a different child, confident and sure of his abilities. Mr. Francis encouraged our son's creativity and allowed him to create comics to share with the class. Our shy boy did class presentations and PowerPoint demonstrations!

"Mr. Francis keeps an extensive library for his students to borrow from, and he challenges students to expand their horizons with many reading genres. He does wonders with these kids. On top of motivating his class with laughter and fun, Mr. Francis sponsors the student council and the safety/service patrol. Earlier this year, he and the other fourth grade teachers introduced and purchased a schoolwide book so that every student in the school read the same chapters at the same time. It was fun!"

– Kathy, Grosse Pointe Woods

Keri Herbst

Yake Elementary School, Woodhaven

"We are nominating Ms. Herbst for the Metro Parent Top Teacher award. Ms. Herbst has extensive knowledge and skill with all students – and expecially with a wide variety of learning disabilities (such as our son has), and she understands the importance of the team approach when developing plans for his success in school. Ms. Herbst always makes sure that she is available for consultation and, if necessary, will come over to Joe and I to assist when concerns are new and pressing any day of the week with our son.

"She is a constant stream of strength in our lives, and she is a blessing to our son. She has led by doing, and by that, I mean she teaches with genuine love and that passion has reflected into the life of our son and his first experience with education. He is in kindergarten. Prior to finding Yake Elementary, we were told our son should not be in school – he should be excluded because he cannot pay attention. Our son was unfortunately a victim of bullying and ridicule by a preschool teacher in the classroom … if you can only imagine! So this was a terrible time for our family, and we were desperate to find somebody we could trust with his feelings about school and himself.

"We were a family in crisis before finding Yake and Ms. Herbst. Recently and timely: With the advice and support of Ms. Herbst and the entire staff who helps Salvatore at Yake, we had him evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD. He physically was unable to pay attention and sit still. He is brilliant, loving and now able to 'attend' – in class. We are thrilled to see the improvements that happened because of the team led by Keri Herbst to help Salvatore stay in school. Included, never excluded because of his inability.

"She believes that all children deserve a chance and to be educated, even if she has to work harder at it. No one works harder than she in a classroom. Twenty-five findergarteners; two or three with special needs. She is pioneer in education. She is the reason Salvatore Giuseppe will graduate kindergarten alongside his twin sister. Top Teacher award nominee – this award would be so awesome for this special teacher. She deserves the accolade and all the honor it has to offer."

– Sherri, Woodhaven

Sarah Jary

Webster Elementary School, Livonia

"My name is Brendan and I am 7. I think Ms. Jary is the best teacher, because she teaches me a lot of cool math games and teaches me about different countries. My vocabulary is growing because of her. She has taught me marvelous new words like perseverate, polemic, tempus fugit and regurgitate. It is very exciting to get new books in our classroom. Ms. Jary has lots of informational books that I like. It is fun to go to school each day."

– Brendan, Livonia

Kari Krausmann

Mason Elementary School, Grosse Pointe Woods

"Kari is my daughter's first grade teacher. She has really helped my daughter to read and improve on her writing. My daughter is also enjoying learning math, science and social studies. Recently, I was very impressed with how much information my daughter learned from her teacher about MLK. In the past, her teacher taught her about all the holidays different cultures celebrate."

– Karen, Grosse Pointe Woods

Sarah LaBlanc

Haigh Elementary School, Dearborn

"My daughter is in Mrs. LaBlanc's kindergarten class at Haigh Elementary. Sarah LaBlanc's creative style of teaching has helped my daughter learn to read – among the numerous other achievements she has conquered in her first year of school. She is kind and patient with her students. My daughter wakes up every morning ready to conquer the day because she has no qualms about going to school thanks to Mrs. LaBlanc!"

– Lynn, Dearborn

Lynn Massucci

Franklin High School, Livonia

"I would like to nominate, friend, colleague, mentor and teacher Lynn Massucci for Metro Parent's Top Teacher Award. Lynn has been inspiring students for almost two decades to explore the world every day in her Spanish classroom. With high expectations and the mantra 'Smart is something you can get,' her students work to master the Spanish language. She is honored regularly by senior students as being the most influential teacher they had in high school. She has deservingly been honored as one of Livonia's teachers of the year.

"The words 'friend' and 'mentor' are not enough to describe the relationship Lynn and I have developed over the last decade teaching together. Lynn has a special 'listening' desk ready for me whenever we have a problem to tackle. She is insightful, truthful and calm. Lynn is the teacher I aspire to emulate each day I step in front of my own students.

"An outstanding educator often does not realize the impact they have had on their students or colleagues. Lynn has sent thousands of students into our world as better learners, as goal-setters, as culturally tolerant individuals. She has helped her friends and colleagues rise above educational politics and do what is best for our students – teach them and love them. It is for these reasons, I believe my friend and colleague, Lynn Massucci, deserves to be recognized as a top educator."

– Mary Beth, Farmington Hills

Joan May

The Lincoln Center, Wyandotte

"Joan teachers students ages 15-22 with autism. Joan has high expectations for her students. She is patient, well organized and kind. She has had to make do in a very small classroom, but that has not hindered her teaching. Her students love to come to school and are very familiar with the classroom routine. Joan incorporates many CBI (creative behavior interventions) outings in her schedule, and every student is taught on their own level. Please consider Joan for your award."

– Janet, Southgate

Kelley Michels

Alexander Hamilton Elementary School, Westland

"I would like to nominate Mrs. Michels because she is a very loving and dedicated kindergarten teacher. She is an excellent role model to the kids, and she has a strong passion for educating the young kids in her class. She is a very organized and structured teacher and wants all her students to succeed. She is an excellent teacher and she makes sure each student is conducting themselves in a positive manner. And she helps each student learn and keeps them engaged and excited to learn new concepts.

"I love the way that she encourages reading and handles support groups to help students to read inside of the school. My daughter was in Mrs. Michels class last year and absolutely adored her. She was reading above grade level and her vocabulary was phenomenal. My daughter is in first grade and is doing excellent. I still volunteer in Mrs. Michels class. And she is the reason I am now pursuing an education in early child development. I want to change the lives of young kids who are going to someday be our future doctors and lawyers like Mrs. Michels has. And she should be recognized for hard work and dedication."

– Chantia, Westland

McKea Miller

Cornerstone School, Nevada Campus, Detroit

"It is with great honor that I nominate my daughter's first grade teacher, Mrs. McKea Miller, as a Metro Parent's Top Teacher for 2013. As an educator, I know the characteristics of a successful teacher. Mrs. Miller exemplifies these qualities each day with enthusiasm and professionalism not only with my daughter, Carrington, but with all students at Cornerstone School. This awesome educator has high expectations for all students. Mrs. Miller wants all of her first grade students to be successful and experience the love of learning.

"My daughter is presented with many learning episodes that allow her to think and apply her knowledge. Each day, I hear Carrington making connections about the content that Mrs. Miller has taught. When I am in the kitchen, Carrington will talk about solids, liquids and gases – and make direct connections to her science lessons. This extraordinary teacher creates a sense of community with her students and parents. Carrington feels very much at home in Mrs. Miller's class. Mrs. Miller is a very warm and nuturing teacher who respects all students. My daughter and all students are given a voice in this collaborative learning environment.

"Mrs. Miller is always accessible – after school hours and on the weekends. All of my questions are answered with care and knowledge. This wonderful person is very professional. Often, I observe Mrs. Miller working with her colleagues to enhance instruction and create teaching expereinces to foster learning and achievement for all students.

"I am very happy to nominate Mrs. McKea Miller as a Metro Parent's Top Teacher for 2013. Mrs. Miller's humble and dedicated spirit to teaching – and providing a warm and nuturing learning environment for my daughter and all students – will foster a love of learning and investigation throughout their educational lives."

– Ursula, Detroit

Andrea Nickerson

Detroit Premier Academy, Detroit

"Ms. Nickerson is a really exceptional teacher. My son was having a hard time sounding out his words, and she found a way to get him to understand the sound and take his time. She has brought him so far since the beginning of the school year. She has gone over and beyond for these kids."

– KayLen, Dearborn

Heather Noon

Bobcean Elementary School, Flat Rock

"She is an outstanding kindergarten teacher and is very dedicated to her student's learning. She uses active and hands-on learning as much as possible. Examples include teaching students how to write authentic letters to friends, writing using various materials or acting hydrogen and oxygen bonds to help understand 'what is water?'

"She uses differentiation in her class and teaches each student to the maximum of their ability. She instills in the students the desire to do their best. She always communicates to her students in a positive and constructive way such that it maintains students' self-esteem. Finally, she communicates well and frequently with parents so we are aware of what is happening in the classroom – and we are given tools to enhance our child's learning. Therefore, I strongly support Mrs. Noon for this award."

– Marie-Eve, Flat Rock

Nicholas Provenzano

Grosse Pointe South High School, Grosse Pointe Farm

"Mr. Provenzano is the best teacher I have ever had because of one simple reason: his classroom enviroment. From the first class of his I went to, I have felt good inside his classroom. He sets his students up for success rather than failure, and he also makes sure his students enjoy his class. With every project or lesson we have done, he has put a twist in that makes it exciting.

"Mr. Provenzano is also very dedicated to becoming the best teacher he possibly can be. He is always attending conferences and meetings to do so. He is a big advocator for technology in the classroom and goes all over the place to talk about that kind of stuff. Mr. Provenzano is dedicated to improving the education of students, and this is evident through the way he teaches each and every class."

– David, Grosse Pointe Park

Nan Sabella

Parcells Middle School, Grosse Pointe Woods

"My son has always been a good student, and his transition to sixth grade had its challenges. He was progressing and doing better when, over a period of time, he became more quiet and withdrawn and his grades started to suffer again. I was concerned and questioned him, but he said very little and wouldn't really talk to me. Mrs. Sabella also noticed that he had become more withdrawn and was very concerned. She is a busy middle school teacher teaching over 100 students a day, but was observant enough to notice my son.

"Mrs. Sabella took time to call me and discuss her concerns; she had even taken steps to alert his counselor. Because of her caring so deeply for my son, she was able to discern that he was being bullied, and we were able to address the situation before it got worse. Our situation is not isolated, though. I have heard from other parents who have experienced Mrs. Sabella being able to reach out and help their children.

"I think in today's environment when there is so much emphasis placed on standardized testing and teacher performance, we lose track of the safe, caring environments teachers like Mrs. Sabella provide. I truly believe she helped save my son from further depression and disengaging from school. She deserves to be recognized for truly knowing her students and going beyond the classroom to assist them."

– Judy, Grosse Pointe Woods

"Mrs. Sabella has stood out above all my son's teachers. She truly has passion and enthusiasm for teaching and really knows and cares for her students. Since she teaches middle school children, I find those qualities amazing!"

– Amanda, Grosse Pointe Woods

Lana Schultz

Botsford Elementary School, Livonia

"We would like to nominate Ms. Schultz because she goes above and beyond to personalize education for her students. She genuinely cares about her students and shows them through encouragement and positive attention. She is a joy to work with and creates a positive atmosphere. She sits with her children at the tables and works individually as needed. She uses tips and current techniques to help the children with problem solving. My son has attention deficit and hyperactivity, and Ms. Schultz has discovered a special way to work with him that motivates him to care and do well in school. She accommodates him yet challenges him. She is the perfect balance, and we could not feel more blessed to have her as his teacher!"

– Sara, Farmington Hills

Alana Snyr

Romulus Middle School, Romulus

"Mrs. Snyr is a wonderful teacher. She takes up her own time to make sure each and every one of her students get the education and more that they need. My child has autism, and I am very protective of my child – some say too much. But she makes me comfortable enough to relax while my daughter is in school. I can call at any time if I need anything. I can go on and on about her. Mrs. Snyr is the No. 1 teacher of the year to me, and I'm sure the other parents in my daughter's class feel the same way."

– Tonya, Romulus

Monique Stokes

Charles H. Wright Academy, Detroit

"Mrs. Stokes is a very caring, hard-working and excellent teacher. I volunteer in her class once a week on my off days. I watch how she interacts with the children. She is so very kind hearted and sincere. She also takes from her own pocket and gives to her students. My son and his classmates just love, love, love, love her. (For) the less-fortunate children in her class, she makes sure they leave with enough food so that their families can eat at night. You just do not find a lot of teachers like her anymore."

– Risa, Detroit

Brittany Straub

Quest Charter Academy, Taylor

"Even though this is Ms. Straub's first year with Quest, she has been doing a wonderful job with my daughter, Aubree. She has made a difference in the way Aubree is learning mathematics, reading and spelling – but also in science, learning about planets specifically. Ms. Straub take pride in not just my child, but her whole class. I am proud of her accomplishments thus far this year. Keep up the good work, Ms. Straub."

– Roseann, Dearborn Heights

Elizabeth Welkenbach

Madison Elementary School, Dearborn Heights

"I would like to nominate Mrs. Welkenbach as a Top Teacher because of her dedication to teaching and the love that she shares with her students. Early in the school year last year, Mrs. Welkenbach was diagnosed with breast cancer. She continued to teach throughout the entire school year through surgery, chemo, losing her hair and all the other things that go along with battling breast cancer. She rarely missed school except when absolutely necessary.

"She has definately been an inspiration to the students (and everyone) at the school where she teaches. For example, she was able to inspire a third grade student who is in her classroom this year and who has been battling leukemia for the past two years. This student gave her his bandana last year, which read 'Cancer Fears Me.' She returned it to him this year so he could share it with another cancer patient.

"I believe that Mrs. Welkenbach deserves to receive the Top Teacher award because she has been one of the best teachers that my children have had. She encouraged my own son when he was in her class. She has been the only one that recognized his positive qualities and (named) him 'student of the month,' which has caused his entire school year to be one of his best ever."

– Susan, Dearborn Heights

"My daughter Chloe had Mrs. Welkenbach in fourth grade. She was sweet and kind like any other teacher, but she had something else that made her special: She took the time to talk to my daugter and get her to be more open in class and try to help her not to be so shy. She took the time to make a difference into a clild's life, and for that I am nominating her for the best teacher award!"

– Simona, Dearborn Heights

Jennifer Wichmann

Cleveland Elementary School, Livonia

"My name is Evelyn, I am 5 years old and I would like to nominate Mrs. Jennifer Wichmann as the best teacher. She smiles a lot and lets us have time to think. She lets us take our time when we read her some words. She is nice! She brings in fun stuff for us to do, like the new 'pocket chart.' She has fun things in the classroom for us to play with. Mrs. Wichmann teaches me really good stuff like being kind and 'Lettercise.' We do dances and lots of songs like counting by fives, twos and 10s. My favorite part about her is that she is nice to everyone."

– Evelyn, Livonia

Erin Wysocki

Cleveland Elementary School, Livonia

"Mrs. Wysocki is my daughter's kindergarten teacher and has shown such patience and encouragement with her. She has made the transition into all-day kindergarten a wonderful experience for us, and we are grateful to her. I have had the privilege of working with her in her classroom and seeing her in various ways and degrees of craziness with 29 kindergarteners! She is a natural and just so genuine with the kids – and everyone she comes in contact with."

– Jill, Westland

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