Metro Parent Top Teacher Nominations 2014

You had wonderful things to say about so many southeast Michigan teachers. Take a look at who was nominated for our 2014 awards.

Wow! It’s amazing to read about the many phenomenal teachers we have here in southeast Michigan. Earlier in 2014, Metro Parent received many nominations for our Top Teacher Awards from you, raving about the hardworking, inspirational educators who have impacted your children’s lives. Two educators stood out for their innovation, dedication and large number of nominations. Meet the two Metro Parent Top Teachers for 2014.

But, we didn’t want all of the other great teachers to go unrecognized! Here, you’ll find all the 2014 nominations.


Cheryl Belloli

Harmon Elementary School, St. Clair Shores

“She is a very loving, caring teacher. My daughter was struggling this year a lot and it was so difficult for her. She would come home so upset and it was painful as a mother to watch my child struggle. But with the right motivation and a wonderful teacher, she has grown and she’s so eager to learn. She’s had amazing changes and even helps others because she’s so excited, and she adores her teacher so much – and because of this we want to nominate Mrs. Belloli!”

– Megan Rochwalski, St. Clair Shores

Dina Passarelli

Richard J. Duncan Elementary School, Shelby Township

“I would like to nominate Ms. Passarelli my daughter’s first grade teacher. She is a caring, helpful, and devoted teacher. It amazes me how she is able to keep 28 first graders organized and structured. She makes learning exciting and fun. My daughter loves going to school because of her. She goes above and beyond. One of her students was diagnosed with leukemia and the student is unable to return to school yet. Ms. Passarelli has been going to her student’s home and teaching him so he does not get behind.  Thank you, Ms. Passarelli, for being so dedicated to teaching.”

– Tracie Hutchinson, Washington Township

Erin Woods

Peace Lutheran Church and School, Shelby Township

“I can only imagine how my life would have been better if I had Erin Woods for my kindergarten teacher. My daughter will probably never realize she has the quintessential kindergarten teacher. That is just fine with me though.  I believe having the best raises the bar for her future educators – even for me as a mom and role model! I could go on and on and on, but hopefully, more parents from our class will nominate her, too. Even if nothing comes to her with this nomination, it’s great to get the word out. If you need a great teacher, you found one in Erin Woods.”

– Trina Fox, Shelby Township

Jill Serruys

Atwood Elementary School, Macomb

“Good afternoon. My name is Dannielle Faulkender. I am the proud mother of a second grade student as well as all her classmates. I would like to nominate Mrs. Jill Serruys for being an outstanding teacher at Atwood Elementary School in Macomb, Michigan. Mrs. S Is amazing! She is humble, honest, patient and simply put: about the kids. While the majority of our Blue Ribbon School’s teachers are outstanding as well, Mrs. S keeps her appearance and teaching style natural and kid friendly. Often accepting help from parents to volunteer in class knowing it takes a village. Always smiling and answering 28 inquisitive minds’ questions at once We parents of room 106 love her and our children love her! Even if she does not win Metro Parent’s Top Teacher Award, she has already won! Mrs. S can proudly know she will send our children onto the next phase of education knowing they have the educational (and) people skills to continue to grow successfully. Thank you for considering our Mrs. S.”

– Dannielle Faulkender, Macomb

Jill Sutter

Jonas Salk Elementary School, Clinton Township

“My daughter’s second grade teacher is outstanding! My daughter started out this year and was behind by almost a half of year in reading and math. Mrs. Sutter took extra time out of her day and met with my daughter after school once a week to work on this with her. In addition, the school has provided my daughter with the resources she needed to get the assistance in improving her skills. In September she tested at a Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) level 12. Then Mrs. Sutter started to work with my daughter and by November she was at a level 18. By January she was above a level 24! My daughter is now reading at grade level and Mrs. Sutter is confident that she will be well above grade level by the year’s end. Math is still a struggle for my daughter and therefore, Mrs. Sutter has agreed to continue to work with her after school and help her with her confidence as well as math concepts and fact families. She doesn’t only do this with my child. She is always willing to take extra time with any child that needs the help. She is always accessible and easily approachable. She speaks to the children at their level and makes learning fun! We have loved all of the teachers that my daughter has had at Salk over the last three years, but Mrs. Jill Sutter is far above any of my expectations.”

– Carrie Noworolnik, Clinton Township

Jodi Zeno

Hevel Elementary School, Washington

“Ms. Zeno is my granddaughter’s third grade teacher. Ms. Zeno is a caring teacher. She is firm yet fair. I have had the pleasure of volunteering every Friday. I watch her in action. Twenty-nine students coming at her with question after question and she has a calm, direct answer for each and every one. She is very patient. She treats all the kids with respect and gives guidance to each and every one. I give her gratitude every day. I am truly grateful for her being in mine and my granddaughters’ lives. Thank you.”

­– Mary, Clinton Township

Kelly Ring

Great Oaks Elementary School, Chesterfield

“Mrs. Ring has been the kindergarten teacher to both of my boys. She is the most caring teacher I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Every parent that I’ve spoken to over the past two years has said the same. She is new to our school and has only had her classroom for two years but has been a sub in our district for years. I believe that she truly loves her class and treats them with the same love and kindness that she would treat her own children. I know she takes special interest in the children that are struggling and the school will often make sure those children are placed with her. I cannot say enough great things about her. I have an older son in the district and have dealt with many teachers over the years and Kelly Ring is a very special person. Mrs. Ring is currently working on her master’s and I know that recognition from the community would mean so much to her. Please consider Mrs. Ring for Top Teacher.”

– Stephanie Bonanni, Chesterfield

Marcia Carr

Francis A. Higgins Elementary School, Chesterfield

“Mrs. Carr knows what is best for each of her students and what they are capable of. She believes in her students and guides and teaches them with patience and understanding. Her many years of experience as a teacher and at different grade levels is evident in her professionalism. She is willing to work with students to help them succeed and feel good about themselves. We love Mrs. Carr!”

– Jennifer Green, Chesterfield

Mrs. Davis

St. Anne Catholic Grade School, Warren

“Ms. Davis is a very special kindergarten teacher! She gets down and dirty with the kiddies and is involved with everything they do! She is actually a kid herself and never hesitates to email parents in the middle of the night just to answer a question. She is lively and fun, with the best enthusiasm about her profession I have ever seen! Every parent in the school wants their child placed with Ms. Davis for kindergarten and that has become war at times!  We all love her. Thank you.”

– Nancy Mikhail, Madison Heights

Pat Vezina

Kurtz Elementary School, Milford

“I have the privilege of having my oldest daughter in Ms. Vezina’s third grade class. She is an educator. It is her career – not just a job. She has perfected a way of inspiring her students. She encourages them in very individual ways depending on what that student might need. She fuses order, fun, learning, empowerment, encouragement, discipline and creativity.  Students from previous years line up at her classroom after school just to spend time with her. More important than my opinion is the opinion of her students past and present. She is just fantastic!”

– Kristi Stempien, Milford



Ann Lenihan

Costello Elementary School, Troy

“Both of my children had her for second grade and both excelled personally, emotionally and academically. She taught them patience, understanding, to be kind and considerate – and doing this by leading from example. Her positive attitude and excitement about learning new things is contagious. They are engaged as a class and want to learn, explore and think outside the box. Her passion for teaching and knowledge is hands down unsurpassed, and I adore her for all the positive energy and her ability to get each child to want to learn new things, think creatively, be confident in there learning, explore new solutions to problems  – and having fun while doing all of this! Mrs. Lenihan is engaging, energetic, loving, caring and our children have learned these things from her and have become better people.”

– Jennifer Halucha, Troy

Anita Siciliano

Cedar Crest Academy, Clarkston

“My daughter, Makaila, loves Ms. Siciliano and the feeling is mutual. Ms. Siciliano is very caring, upfront and nurturing. She makes her students think. I mean, really use their brains and that is why we chose Cedar Crest Academy. All the teachers there are on the same accord. Knowledge is truly power!”

– Terrie Thomas, Waterford

Becky Melamed

Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills

“Ms. Melamed is always smiling. She is kind and loving and has heart.  Besides being innovative and creative, I really believe that she loves every child she teaches.”

– J. Katz, Farmington Hills

Brett Greer

Norup International School, Oak Park

“Mr. Greer is a fantastic teacher. He is the only male teacher in the elementary school. He teaches my son’s fifth grade class. In addition, he volunteers his time to coach basketball, football and other activities at the local high schools. He is a role model to young men interested in education. I’m glad my son has him this year.”

–Vonetta Sanders, Southfield

Elizabeth Forsythe

St. Mary Catholic School, Royal Oak

“She is absolutely wonderful with the kids, and takes extra time to help those that don’t get a concept the first or second time. She works really hard, and cares about the kids’ education, which is a real plus since Catholic school teachers don’t get paid a bunch.”

– DeAnn Reeve, Royal Oak

Jackie Parker

Lone Pine Elementary School, West Bloomfield

“This is my daughter Elle’s words: She is a good teacher and she is nice. On bagel day, if you didn’t bring a dollar, she would give you a dollar to get a bagel. These are my words as a parent: Jackie Parker is my daughter Elle’s second grade teacher at Lone Pine Elementary. Jackie Parker has been an inspiration, a cheerleader, a counselor, a leader, and a change-maker for my Elle. Elle’s year with Jackie has been incredible because she has given my Elle the confidence to have a voice. Elle stands up for herself in a respectful way because of Ms. Parker’s guidance. We are so thankful and grateful that Elle has been a part of her classroom. Thank you, Ms. Parker!”

– Elle and Eve Pierre, Northville

Jessica Metti

Holy Family Regional School, Rochester Hills

“Ms. Metti makes each day fun and exciting for her class. She embodies the reason for Holy Family School: Jesus Christ. She is always in a good mood, is kind, gentle, and is always there when you need her. She has a way of making her students feel special. The whole class enjoys her innovative science experiments. Ms. Metti goes above and beyond each day with her students and then tends to her own two small children at home. As your quote says, she tells, explains, demonstrates, and inspires!”

– Jennifer Wagener, Rochester

Kristen Burwell

Brooklands Elementary School, Rochester Hills

“When you are in school, if you are lucky enough, you will have a teacher that you will remember for the rest of your life because they changed your life. My daughter is lucky. Ms. Burwell is a true educational partner with parents. She provides us with the supplemental tools we need to help our children master their coursework. She knows her students’ strengths and weaknesses and inspires them to always do their best. Organized is her middle name! Under her instruction this year, my daughter has gained self-motivation, confidence and desire to excel in school. She teaches her pupils the importance of having a good work ethic. This will ultimately serve them well for the rest of their life in all that they do. Most importantly, Ms. Burwell has made her classroom a family!”

– Therese Dharwadkar, Rochester Hills

Krista Stern and Lauren Ede

Detroit Country Day Lower School, Bloomfield Hills

“My teachers work together and always make going to school so much fun! They also teach us about important things that have happened in America. We put on a play called The Founding Mothers and the Parade of the Presidents in February and each of us got to present as either a famous president or an important female figure. I was Betsy Ross. I learned traditional American songs and was able to memorize all my lines. I love learning about the history of America and I am only 5 years old! My teachers make me laugh and teach me how to be a good citizen.”

– Ella Ebeling, Royal Oak

Megan Monacelli

Carpenter Elementary School, Lake Orion

“I would like to tell you about Ms. Monacelli. I have an 11-year-old daughter Allison who has a unique and rare disability. She has Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). It is a neuromuscular disease that affects from the knees down and the elbows down. She wears braces on both legs and has to use a wheelchair sometimes. Her hands tire and cramp up easily so she requires extra time with writing.

“When Ms. Monacelli, one of the fifth grade teachers, heard about Allison, she was so willing to help and accommodate her challenges. She has always has had an open door policy. Whenever I need to talk with her she is always willing to listen. She always ends our talks with, ‘I will take good care of her.’ I leave feeling a sense of relief knowing she is being taken care of both educationally and emotionally.

“Allison is a straight-A student. Ms. Monacelli always makes sure she is challenged and having fun at the same time. She is a very dedicated teacher. A perfect example happened just this week. She was pregnant this whole school year. She taught her students on Tuesday and had her baby on Wednesday. Now even though she is now on maternity leave, she still plans on being there for all of her students’ major events until the end of the year.  She also will do weekly check-ins with her longterm substitute teacher. She has assured all of her parents that we can still email or call her anytime.

“Ms. Megan Monacelli has been the best fifth grade teacher we could of asked for. Allison has thrived through all of her challenges with the help of this wonderful teacher. Thank you.”

– Christine Stanley, Lake Orion

Mrs. Scholl

Norup International School, Oak Park

“Mrs. Scholl is my daughters first grade teacher. She is a very dedicated and caring teacher. Her student love her and I appreciate how she keeps the parents connected to their child’s progress and academic gains.”

– Vonetta Sanders, Southfield

Philip Wahtola

Brooks Elementary School, White Lake

“Mr. Wahtola is the best teacher I have ever had. He wants you to learn. I would rather learn from a teacher then have a teacher who is too nice. He recently asked us what type of teacher we would want: a teacher who teaches and helps you to learn, or a nice teacher. I picked the teacher that you could learn from, just like him. I have learned a lot about science from him and this makes him the best.”

– Mason Podhorsky, Milford

Ruth Bennefield

Southfield Christian School, Southfield

“I would like to nominate Ms. Bennefield for Top Teacher because of her dedication to her students. Southfield Christian School (SCS) provides a remarkable balance of spiritual, academic and social growth under the direction of amazing Christian teachers like Ms. Bennefield. She makes each child feel loved and worthy of her individualized attention (and moms, too!) She is loving yet not coddling, and challenging yet not discouraging. Ms. Bennefield has created such a wonderful foundation for my daughter’s continued journey into elementary school and (has) been extremely welcoming to us, as we recently joined the SCS family. She does an incredible job on a daily basis. She is both an amazing teacher and a caring, wonderful person. Recently, my daughter was asked how she liked her new school, and without hesitation she replied, ‘I love it! It’s not like going to school at all!’ My husband and I feel so blessed that Ms. Bennefield is Kennedy’s teacher. Thank you!”

– Ebony Morning-Cook, Southfield



Aina Bernier

Ann Arbor Open School, Ann Arbor

“Aina has true love of science and imparts that to the children that she teaches. She teaches the curriculum she thinks is important for the students to learn. My son is now in high school and says science is easy because he learned most of it in middle school with Aina. Ann Arbor Open MEAP scores have consistently been the highest in Ann Arbor and that is because they have a teacher who loves what she teaches and pushes the kids to learn complex scientific ideas. My son now values what he learned in his middle school years.”

– Pam Davis-Kean, Ann Arbor

Dr. Mary Ellen Flaherty

Emerson School, Ann Arbor

“I would like to nominate Dr. Flaherty because she is beyond dedicated to her job. She teaches the students so much more than the contents of her lesson plans, and for that I am grateful. Dr. Flaherty is not only a good feministic role model for young girls everywhere, but she approaches such a role with unyielding zest. She is abundantly energetic, engaging, incredibly fun to listen to, and has a witty sense of humor. The classes she teaches (in this case, sixth grade math) are created to adapt to all auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. From a middle schooler’s perspective, she actually makes math fun. Her health classes (which every sixth, seventh and eighth grader takes) are always intriguing and address modern-day issues in an appropriate format. In conclusion, Dr. Flaherty is a truly marvelous teacher whose hard work and energy installs glowing inspiration into every kid who has had the privilege to be one of her students.”

– Elizabeth Levy, Ann Arbor

Peggy Blattner

Woodland Meadows Elementary School, Saline

“I would like to nominate Peggy Blattner. She is my daughter Elizabeth’s second grade teacher. Ms. Blattner is an incredible teacher. Watching her with her students is a pleasure. You can see the genuine pride on her face as she sees her students learning. One day my daughter, who is quite shy, came home and wrote a poem for Ms. Blattner. It said, ‘I love Ms. Blattner because she makes kids feel confident and she makes me feel happy inside.’ I wish every teacher had the gift of making a child feel that way! I must admit it brought tears to my eyes to know that she had touched my child in that way. This is a teacher who is not just doing a job. She is enriching these children’s lives and helping build confidence that will stick with them as they grow. We are so thankful to have such a kind, compassionate and just simply amazing teacher in our lives. Thank you, Ms. Blattner. You are awesome!”

– Sharon Diuble, Ann Arbor

Robert Cindric

Woodland Meadows Elementary School, Saline

Heritage Elementary School, Saline

“Mr. Robert Cindric received a simple request from my child: ‘Would you start a little choir before school?’ Mr. Cindric said, ‘Yes!’ The sincere and enthusiastic answer sparked an amazing result – a 96-member children’s choir! The Saline Swarm of Voices is composed of third, fourth and fifth graders from Woodland Meadows Elementary School and Heritage School in Saline. They practice two days a week before school. When Mr. Cindric has a conflict, like adjudicating a district choir festival, he reschedules instead of canceling so that the children will not be disappointed. The choir wears Saline Swarm of Voices shirts that promote a sense of belonging to something special. They gave a heartwarming holiday performance at Linden Square, a nearby assisted living center. So many children wanted to hold his hand walking back to the school. He has more rainbow loom bracelets (tokens of elementary school friendship) than you can imagine. My daughter estimates 80 plus on each arm. He can’t wear them all at once! My daughter also says that Mr. Cindric is ‘full of hope’ and says things like, ‘I believe in you. You can do this.’ I appreciate his organization. His emails keep us on track. His graciousness is also notable. He recognizes the support received from principals Mr. Sharon and Ms. Szczechowicz, as well as fellow teacher Ms. Bingham. And then of course there is Mr. Cindric’s generosity of spirit. He hopes to add at least five more members to make it an over 100-member choir!  Thank you for considering Mr. Cindric for the Metro Parent Top Teacher Award.”

– Nora Carichner, Saline

“Mr. Cindric is an amazing teacher. Anyone who sees him with students can see the pure joy he gets from making them feel special. The students love him because he is patient and enthusiastic, truly bringing out the best in each and every student. I feel a teacher who truly cares for children always makes the best teacher. When you watch Mr. Cindric, you don’t see someone just doing a job, you see someone enriching the life of a child. I have had four children at Saline, all with different personalities, and Mr. Cindric has been able to touch each one of their lives in a positive way. Kudos to you, Mr. Cindric! From the Diuble Family.”

– Sharon Diuble, Ann Arbor

“Bob created a before-school choir club for students in grades three through five. He volunteers his time twice a week before school to instruct this group of around 100 students. He puts on concerts and motivates students to love singing and music. Bob is absolutely amazing!”

– Kimberly Munn, Saline

“Bob gives 110 percent effort to his students every day. He teaches music to elementary students and has voluntarily organized a before-school choir that incorporates kids from two different elementary schools, grades three through five. This choir meets for an hour before school twice a week and has performed with middle and high school groups multiple times this year. He has also organized trips to a local senior center for our kids to perform. Bob has taught for approximately 30 years and still has the energy of a beginning teacher. The kids love him and know how much he loves working with them. Bob Cindric is very deserving of this recognition!”

– Wendy, Saline

“Mr. Cindric is the music teacher at both schools. Last summer he had a student come to him who was interested in having a choir program before school started in the morning. He told her, ‘You get enough friends together and I will do this. Sounds like a great idea.’ So now since school started last September, he now teaches a choir program for 3-4th graders every morning 8-8:40 a.m., 90-100 kids. Plus, teaching his regular classes during day. This early morning choir program is absolutely wonderful. He makes sure these kids are included in the nighttime choir programs with the older grades. They have also gone to a retirement home to sing for Christmas, and have plans to do it again in May. My son loves him and looks forward to his twice-a-week mornings with Mr. Cindric. Thank you for your time.”

– Kimberly Campbell, Saline

“He really cares about the kids. Gives his free time to teach a morning choir group before school. He is warm friendly and a great motivator.”

– Mike Fry, Ann Arbor

“Mr. Cindric launched a before-school, all-volunteer elementary choir for children who could not both participate in band and choir. He had a fifth grader who emailed him over the summer and asked if he would volunteer to teach the elementary kids to sing. He said if he got a handful of children he would do it. Instead, nearly 100 students enrolled to come into school twice a week (starting at 730) to sing. The kids now do concerts with the other choirs. They also participate in community concerts at senior centers and elsewhere. He has really engendered a love of singing and music in my daughter, and I am so thankful that he volunteers every week twice a week to teach (it). In a world where budgets are tight and it seems everyone is too busy for everything, it is a refreshing surprise that Mr. Cindric has done so much for the elementary music program in Saline.”

– Heidi Naasko, Saline

“Mr. Cindric goes above and beyond the call of duty. He volunteers to teach a before-school choir to students grades three through five. His choir has nearly 100 students. He brings out the best in each student and their concerts are a joy to watch!”

– Nancy Zebrowski, Saline

“Music is the voice of the heart, and Mr. Bob Cindric is a prime example of that.  In addition to his job as elementary music teacher, this year Mr. Cindric opened up an extra curricular choir offered to students in third through fifth grade. The choir meets twice a week before school, performs with the middle school choir, and also visits area nursing homes to sing to residents there. Nothing is more powerful than a collection of children’s voices. Mr. Cindric has attracted 80-plus students in the first year that he has offered this. He has gone above and beyond for our aspiring vocalist, and we appreciate his time and talents so much!”

– Sarah Woodruff, Saline

“Mr. Cindric has a heart of gold.  He comes to school early twice a week (with no extra pay) to work with third through fifth graders in a before-school choir.  He manages around 100 children on his own and teaches them several songs as well as motions to go with them. He works closely with the middle school choir teacher to create musical programs for the children to perform for their families. He has three hour-long performances planned for this year. He also plans additional concerts at an area assisted living home. He consistently sacrifices his own time to help our students develop their musical abilities in a fun, relevant way.”

– Sara Austin, Saline

“Mr. Cindric is an elementary school teacher at Woodland Meadows, a K-3 elementary school in Saline school district. Bob volunteers his time organizing a before-school choir at another elementary school for our district’s fourth and fifth graders. Our school doesn’t offer choir for fourth grade, but my daughter is able to participate before school due to Bob Cindric. He has absolutely gone above and beyond organizing over 80 kids (and their parents!) (for) practices, concerts and even Saline Swarm of Voices shirts. I have been astonished at the amount of work he puts in at a school prior to going to his regular job. The group has practice two times a week before school. My daughter joined this choir at the beginning of the school year and I have seen her love for singing and music absolutely blossom. Search for Saline Swarm of Voices on YouTube and you can see the kids going to a local senior center to sing. You can see Mr. Cindric and his wonderful piano skills as well. I hope you consider him. He is very deserving of this award!”

– Lauren Hornberger, Saline

Ruth Wilson

Emerson School, Ann Arbor

“Ruth has helped me so much with my daughters. She goes above and beyond to help them learn. She is always so positive and an absolute joy to be around.”

– Cheryl Hall, Dexter

Susan Carpenter

Summers-Knoll School, Ann Arbor

“In a school that contains children of many different abilities, Susan Carpenter simply shines. Ms. Carpenter has changed the way that my daughter views learning. It is no longer a chore for her. It has become a joyful and magical experience. It wasn’t always that way, though. My daughter struggled to even want to learn before she came to Ms. Carpenter, and school was thought of as work.

“Ms. Carpenter respects children and realizes that they cannot be expected to ‘sit still’ in their chairs all day. She starts each day with a bit of quiet meditation to allow them to get centered, relaxed and focused. She allows the children to knit, mold clay or doodle while she reads them novels during story time because she understands that kids absorb more while they are in a relaxed state of mind. She is always in contact with the parents and creates an ‘open door’ for parents to be able to communicate their questions and concerns. She has ‘special readers’ every week to allow the children to read aloud to the class so that they become comfortable presenting to groups. I feel that this is incredibly important as it lends to a more confident child.

“She is truly the essence of a gifted teacher and it is obvious just how very much she loves her kids and her career. Quite simply, she is pure magic.”

Stacyee Lee, Northville

Wendy Kelley

The Early Learning Center Preschool, Ann Arbor

“She is very patient, loving and encouraging with the children!”

– Zoha Idrees, Ann Arbor



Amy Zizelman

Poupard Elementary School, Harper Woods

“Ms. Zizelman is a very caring and attentive teacher. She loves all of your kids and really works hard to give them individual attention. My son is advanced for kindergarten and I was worried he would not be challenged. She has given him extra homework and assignments for his level, and has gone out of her way to continue his growth in reading. She is an outstanding teacher!”

– Janice Fox, Harper Woods

Cheryl Holten

West Middle School, Plymouth

“Mrs. Holten always has a smile on. She always has kind words. She is organized and always willing to help her students that may need extra attention. She is very understanding of her student strength and weaknesses. She is a great teacher.”

– Mary Farres, Plymouth

Christy Schultz

Wegienka Elementary School, Brownstown

“Christy Schultz stands out as a teacher who goes above and beyond in the classroom! At the beginning of my daughter’s third-grade year with Mrs. Schultz, she completed a questionnaire about herself and her learning style.  This proves that Mrs. Schultz truly cares about her students and is trying to reach them individually! She’s technology-savvy and utilizes computers and video conferencing as part of her curriculum. She also maintains weekly updates to her website, which parents can use to get more info about homework and special projects. She goes out of her way to provide extra challenges to keep her students interested and encourages them to pursue ideas further! She even planned and hosted a Native American night for all the third graders and their families, complete with spoken presentations, songs and pie! I can’t say enough good things about Mrs. Schultz. She is truly an exceptional teacher!”

– Penny Filippi, Brownstown

Cynthia Miller

Hoover Elementary School, Livonia

“She is just phenomenal. She goes even farther than above and beyond for the kids. Her communication with parents is out of this world and she is always willing to email or meet to discuss and issue, even when she was on maternity leave!”

– Danielle Springer, Livonia

Dan Bens

Parcells Middle School, Grosse Pointe Woods

“So many teachers teach for the money. They just want to make a living, nothing more, nothing less. They have no interest in truly connecting with their students, and believe that they are far more superior than their students.

“We have found a remarkable exception. Much more than just a seventh grade English teacher, Mr. Bens is a great person. He brightens everyone’s day with his kind smile and uplifting attitude. He cares about each and every one of his students and connects with each and every one of them. He takes the time to say goodbye to all of his students as they leave the classroom, even in the busy world of middle school. In his classroom the learning goes both ways, from teacher to student and student to teacher.

“Mr. Bens is extremely passionate about his subject. Many find English to be boring, but he crafts it into a mystical realm to explore. He truly enjoys teaching his subject. Not only is he passionate about English, he is also very knowledgeable about English. He has not yet failed to answer an English-related question. Mr. Bens is extremely thoughtful and thorough in his markings. He always has something positive to say about your writing and suggests ways to improve in a supportive way. He is very honest in his feedback and doesn’t leave you in the dark about what he thought about your work.

“Another wonderful thing about Mr. Bens is that you can talk with him.  For many, talking with a teacher means you have to carefully phrase your words and not stray from the matter at hand. But with Mr. Bens you don’t have to. You can talk to him about anything; his door is always open. If something were bothering me, he’d notice and invite me to come and talk and talk. My words would be a tumbling waterfall and he wouldn’t try to stop its flow, he’d only encourage it. His words are always kind and comforting, telling me that I’ll always get through whatever my troubles are. Countless times he has touched me with his kindness, so many hard times have been made easier because of the kind words of Mr. Bens.

“He is more than just a teacher; he is also a friend.”

– Ritika and Sakina, Grosse Pointe Woods

Heather Hughes

Blair Moody Elementary School, Taylor

“Heather is a very gifted teacher. Both of my children had her for kindergarten. She instilled a love of learning in them that continues to grow every year. She is very nurturing and compassionate and you can tell that she truly loves her job.”

– Denise Raich, Taylor

Jennifer Koopy

Smith Elementary School, Plymouth

“Ms. Koopy worked with all of her students at an individual level. Ms. Koopy never pigeonholed her students. She felt all her students would one day find their interest in life and be successful. Ms. Koopy is a kind, patient and caring teacher. Ms. Koopy would build students’ confidence where they felt that if they applied themselves they could accomplish anything in life.  My son came home … and said with Ms. Koopy’s help he can do anything.”

– Mary Farres, Plymouth

Karrie Seifert-Rea

Northville High School, Northville

“Ms. Seifert-Rea deserves special recognition because she is a positive, loving and excellent, hands-on teacher that really knows her stuff. She is always very willing to help and answer questions as needed. She has a passion for her subject and for her students, which makes learning fun. I also really like how she brings the subject alive by taking what we are learning and applying it to our real lives. That, too, makes learning so much more enjoyable – when we as students can relate to the material. She gave me a passion for biology!”

– Kaleigh Carlone, Novi

Loriel Archer

Cornerstone Primary School, Detroit

“I would like to nominate Ms. Archer because she has already surpassed my expectations and we are only halfway through the school year. Ms. Archer has a heart of gold when it comes to her students. She goes above and beyond the call of duty to create a genuine and wonderful learning experience. She doesn’t allow things like, ‘It’s not in the budget’ or, ‘That’s not my job’ to interfere with her teaching goals and for that I truly appreciate her. Ms. Archer has a wonderful passion for teaching and, as a parent, you can’t help being moved and motivated by it. Her reputation surpasses her and she is an inspiration to those around her.”

– Natalya Lalor, Detroit

Michelle Furlong

Adams Upper Elementary School, Westland

“I would like to nominate this special lady to have her shining moment because she is more then just a teacher! I first met Ms. Furlong when my brother Tim had her for his fifth grade teacher a few years ago, and now she is my fifth grade teacher. Ms. Furlong is so caring, smart, pretty, nice, fun, funny, crafty, loves kids and animals and is not only one of my favorite teachers ever but also a friend. She has taught me a lot of stuff about school, about myself, and how to treat others, too. She comes to school every day to be with her students even when she’s not feeling well – except for when she broke her ankle and the doctor made her stay home, but she still came in a few times to check on us. I really think this is the teacher who deserves to be recognized for her time, love and support she shows for us students. Thank you.”

– Ariahna Lamoreaux, Wayne

Mrs. Courtright

Priest Elementary-Middle School, Detroit

“A great teacher teaches children! If you can get a child/student interested in subjects that they normally would not be able to excel (in), then I feel you’re a wonderful teacher – like Mrs. Courtright, (who) knows how to teach and puts her heart and soul in her work!”

– Mrs. Duke, Detroit

Mrs. Brown

Parsons Elementary School, Gibraltar

“Mrs. Brown is an amazing fourth grade teacher that loves her job and truly loves inspiring her students. She runs the after school science club also. She was in charge of the STEM fair. My daughter left third grade not really liking school for the first year ever. Mrs. Brown has turned that all around. My daughter is now on the honor roll and loves school. She adores her teacher. Mrs. Brown is also great with the parents. Her parent-teacher communication is so fast and she always addresses all concerns. Helping with the class parties, it was heartwarming to see her interact with the students and see their reactions to her excitement. My second son had her as a teacher nine years ago and she has not changed with time in regards to how her honest love of teaching shows daily! Our city is blessed to have her.”

– Shannon Henry, Gibraltar

Mrs. Harris

Priest Elementary-Middle School, Detroit

“She has been a blessing to my family. She truly has a heart of gold. She takes time to go the extra mile. Sometimes people are angels in disguise!”

– Mrs. Duke, Detroit

Regina Dunn

Dearborn Heights Montessori Center, Dearborn Heights

“Very enthusiastic, caring, encouraging teacher. Talented and stimulates the students’ thinking creative.”

– Maysoon Al-Hihi, Northville

“Mrs. Dunn deserves to win the Top Teacher Award because of several outstanding qualities that she has. First, her every day cheerful face makes every student and parent feel that she is very happy with her job. Second, her friendly personality helps students feel at ease in her classroom and hence motivated to perform their best. Third, Mrs. Dunn is very successful in realizing her students’ potential and works continuously to help students reach their highest academic and social potential.

“Fourth, Mrs. Dunn’s organizational skills are outstanding. She is the best role model for the students in this respect. Students seem to always know what is expected from them, and how to go about in completing their tasks. Also, as a parent, Mrs. Dunn keeps me updated on a daily basis via email and on a weekly basis via a planner sheet report about my daughter’s work progress. I am always aware of what is going on in the classroom, and with my daughter.

“Fifth, Mrs. Dunn is a parent as well. She is by far the most amazing person in knowing how to reach to the students and more importantly how to step down to their level. She integrates topics that the children are capable of relating to and knows how to make her students feel safe in the classroom.

“Finally, I truly hope that Mrs. Dunn wins the Top Teacher Award as she strives on a daily basis to bring the best out of our children, and they love being in her classroom.”

– Hanan Fadlallah, Dearborn

“Dearborn Heights Montessori Center has a lot of wonderful teachers, but Regina Dunn is clearly one of the best. I have never experienced a teacher that has understood my child as well as she does. Regina has somehow figured out what has been 11 years in the making. She knows my son’s strengths and how to inspire him to do his best work. She is aware of his weaknesses and encourages him to succeed in these areas as well. Regina goes above and beyond to make the lessons interesting and meaningful, from dressing up as a mad scientist to chopping wood with the children. She is available, organized, and dedicated – all while maintaining a great sense of humor. In addition to educating our son, she is helping shape him into a wonderful human being. We love her!”

– Christine Juergens, Dearborn

“Dear Metro Parent, Mrs. Regina is the Cheesecake Factory of teachers. Every day is rich and interesting and most of all different from the day before. Like today, I had to write a poem using science words from concepts I’ve learned this year. I’m also researching and writing on the gods and goddesses of Egypt. I’m reading historical fiction, too! And soon I will be using a real square to figure out square roots! Most of all we’ll be celebrating International Pie Day tomorrow – a reward for our hard work! What I like about Mrs. Regina, too, and most of all is that she likes and gets kids. Even the ones that forget their homework! I think you should pick Mrs. Regina because I can’t give her an International Pie Day or cheesecake, but she would be just as happy with an award ©.”

– Hannah Fakih, Dearborn

“Dear Metro Parent, I wrote to you about my great teacher Mrs. Regina on March 13, 2014. I wanted to tell you that International Pie Day turned out to be International Pi Day. Isn’t that so funny? Mrs. Regina loves tricky words and the coolest concepts you’ve ever heard of. She used a pie to explain Pi and then we got to eat the pie right after we ate the Pi concept! I’m going to use those words together next week if I have free choice on my poem of the week. It’ll make Mrs. Regina smile :).

“I just wanted to tell you a few more things I remembered about Mrs. Regina, too. Somehow, because she takes us outside more than other teachers ever have and shows us things about nature, well, I feel more connected to my world. I’m not sure how this happened, but I do love the earth more and I think it’s so interesting! Another thing I never felt as much before as I do now, is how hungry people are that don’t have money. We do lots of food drives and I think about hunger way more. My mom said I’m not as wasteful as I use to be! Love, Hannah.”

– Hannah Fakih, Dearborn

Renee Priest

West Middle School, Plymouth

“She is kind and caring. Always willing to help with homework or even just school issues with friends, Middle School is tough. She takes extra time with all her students.”

– Mary Farres, Plymouth

Susan Swiderek

All Saints Catholic School, Canton

“Although the write up says that you are looking for teachers kindergarten through 12, I feel that Ms. Swiderek deserves recognition. She was a preschool and pre-K teacher, and this year is a full time pre-K teacher. She has a heart of gold and you can tell that she is passionate about what she does. She makes the first years of schooling exciting and fun for the children. She also knows that we, as parents, like that extra little reassurance, to know that our child is in good hands while they are away from us at school. Ms. Swiderek does just that. She is very well liked and respected by both students and parents. She is an A+ teacher!”

– Michelle Tokarz, Canton

Terri Kay

Dodson Elementary School, Canton

“Mrs. Terri Kay is truly a amazing educator who inspires and motivates her students through her extreme dedication and boundless creativity. Mrs. Kay’s second-grade classroom at Dodson Elementary School is a true wonderland where students can have their imaginations fired simply by the environment she has created. Mrs. Kay’s commitment of her time and own money to further the learning experiences of her students is truly special.  Her creativity in leading students through “mad science” experiments while studying matter, growing beans and creating seed dispersal balloons, when studying plants, and (when) her helping students create Native American rainsticks and dioramas when studying history is amazing. My wife and I feel very fortunate that our son has been able to learn from Mrs. Kay this school year and are thankful for all that she does every day to touch the minds of her young students.”

– Geoffrey Kopp, Ypsilanti

Tracy Wright

Charles Lindbergh Elementary School, Dearborn

“Ms. Wright is the most adaptable, fun-loving, hard-working teacher.  She teaches kindergarten. I’m lucky to have (had) two of my kids (have) her. She is wonderful, kind and supportive, and makes the lessons fun, which encourages students to try harder. She is the best teacher ever.

“All parents and kids in her class feel like family as she shares, loves and respect all different cultures in the entire school. She does things to help all kids learn things in different ways. She takes a personal interest in the students’ success and builds everyone’s confidence. She even integrates a lot of science experiments in her classroom. Since the beginning of the school year, she does a science experiment every Wednesday. All the students are always so excited to see their parents helping in the classroom. She even teaches them to think of a hypothesis and prove it right or wrong after they do their experiment!

“She made everything fun. She would never yell at anyone. If any of the kindergartens did something wrong, she always had and still has a warm smile for all of her students, whether they are her students now or were her students in the past. She has a very close bond with her students and the parents, and makes learning a wonderful and entertaining experience for all of her kids. She teaches all the students as if they are her own kids!

“She is a teacher who all my kids look forward to seeing every day. She is always optimistic, encouraging, and is truly concerned about her students inside and outside of the classroom. She made education meaningful and encouraged understanding by using real life experiences. Ms. Wright truly made a difference in the life of my kids, (and), I’m sure, impacted the life of many others as well! She is truly the best teacher ever!”

­­– Lara Beydoun, Dearborn Heights

Metro Parent Editorial Team
Metro Parent Editorial Team
Since 1986, the Metro Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for metro Detroit families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.


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