Melody Arabo, a much-loved third grade teacher at Walled Lake’s Keith Elementary School, is the new Michigan Teacher of the Year.
With more than 12 years of classroom experience, she was chosen from 238 applicants for the annual award given by the state’s department of education.
Arabo discovered her passion for teaching while working as a paraprofessional with students learning to speak English at a local elementary school.
“I am honored to have this opportunity,” she says. “Being in this role makes me hopeful, because I will have a voice for teachers and students across the state.”
According to a press release from the state, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools Superintendent Kenneth Gutman praised Arabo, saying she’s “an inspiration to her students and their parents. Her ability to reach each of her students from a variety of backgrounds is simple incredible. She represents the ideal combination of scholarly ability, dedication, determination, maturity and an unmatched child-centered passion,”
As the 2014 winner, Arabo gets a seat at the Michigan Board of Education’s monthly meetings, aimed at improving the educational system statewide.
Her goal, she says, is to create state and district positions for teacher leaders, so they have a voice, too.
“Many teachers would like a chance to influence decisions without stepping away from their true passion,” she says, “which is working with kids.”