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CLASS OF 2015-2016


Derek Raddatz

1st Grade Teacher
Northridge Academy

"Northridge staff, students and parents absolutely love the support and encouragement that Mr. Raddatz provides," said Ms. Brown-Coates, Northridge Academy school leader. Through self reflection and research, Mr. Raddatz took the initiative to improve his teaching to fit the needs of his students. He found strategies in brain-based teaching that strengthened his commitment to excellence in the education of our students.


Josefina Nichols

8th Grade Math Teacher
Cesar Chavez Academy Middle School

“Through informal observation and feedback from students, Mrs. Llanes is viewed as having a positive impact on student achievement," said Ms. Hines-Jenkins, Cesar Chavez Academy Middle School leader. Mrs. Llanes sets high expectations for her students and follows up to be sure they are meeting those expectations. Her passion for student achievement shines through when she stays late and comes in early to plan and help students one on one.


Kaylah Laurian

9th & 11th Grade ELA Teacher
Dream Academy

"Ms. Laurian provides her students with challenging but relevant material that has helped her students gain confidence in the area of ELA," said Mr. Woodley, Dream Academy instructional coach. Ms. Laurian developed quality positive relationships with her students in a short period of time. Her ability to deliver consistent, creative activities and lessons helps her students improve their literacy skills.


Kendra Smith

1st Grade Teacher
Highland Park Renaissance Academy

Ms. Smith has been nominated by both her instructional coach and a fellow teacher. "She's a mentor and meets with other teachers to welcome them aboard and/or guide K-2 teachers in the right direction of lesson planning, curriculum and resources," said Ms. Talbert, HPRA instructional coach. "Kendra's room is beautifully arranged as a pleasant and safe learning environment. She always plans fun and exciting lesson plans for her students," said fellow teacher, Olivia Everhart-Howard.


Cherita Hill

MS Science Teacher
Joy Preparatory Academy

"She (Ms. Hill) is an extremely positive role model for both students and staff," said Ms. Gardulescu, Joy Preparatory Academy school leader. Ms. Hill plans creative and motivating hands-on science experiments for the students to perform in the science lab she created from a vacant classroom in the building. She continually tells her students that they have the potential to learn and achieve at the highest levels. Currently her students are researching outstanding scientists; doing activities, making timelines, presenting biographies and even dressing up as these inspirational scholars.


Rob Gardella

HS ELA Teacher
Cesar Chavez Academy High School

"Rob has made an impact on me through the impact he is having on our students," said Juan Martinez, school leader at César Chávez Academy High School. Mr. Gardella is described as extremely responsible and dependable. Among the many hats he wears at CCAHS are the roles as Leadership trip planner, 12th grade class moderator and outstanding teacher.​


Jennifer Cojeen

Kindergarten Teacher
Francis Reh Public School Academy

Ms. Cojeen demonstrates strong foundational skills in her classroom instruction, management and carries out effective curriculum accommodations and modifications. The FRA instructional coach, Mrs. Pruitt, states, "I discover how much of a 'light bulb' year Kindergarten is when I observe her students from the beginning of a school year to the end." Jennifer's outstanding instructional skills set her apart, along with her big heart of gold. She provides our young students with the knowledge, compassion, flexibility, patience and encouragement they need in order to succeed. She currently has a visually impaired student (blind) in her class to whom she provides unique educational support and fosters independence. "As I watch her pour life and love into our students, I believe she is more than 'just a teacher' to them. She truly believes our FRA students are amazing and she embraces being part of their journey," said Ms. Pruitt.


Natalie Hubbard

MS Science Teacher
Highland Park Renaissance Academy

Natalie just started at HPRA about five weeks ago and she has hit the ground running. Not only has she been doing hands-on lab experiments, but she has not slowed down since the first day. The students truly enjoy science now and they are eager to learn. Ms. Hubbard has good classroom management skills and this is due to having consistent procedures and rules in place. She Rocks! "She's small in size, but has a huge presence. She doesn't say much, but what she says, speaks volumes. She's kind to the kids and they love her. She respects the staff and students, so she gets it in return. She's a joy to work with; others are learning from her," said Rachel Talbert, instructional coach at HPRA.


Emily Wenger

HS Math Teacher
Dream Academy

Ms. Wenger consistently displays the qualities of an exemplary teacher. Recently, Ms. Wenger had her students complete a probability and statistics project which required them to formulate a poll question and go out into their community and collect data. Students then used their data to create graphs and tables which are proudly displayed in our hallways. In addition, Emily also gives up her own planning time to provide assistance to other teachers during their math tier groups. "Emily's positive attitude, leadership, and commitment have had an impact on her math students and the staff at Dream Academy. We are proud to call her one of our own," said Glenn Woodley, instructional coach at Dream Academy.


Carmen Ruiz

Kindergarten Teacher
Hope of Detroit Academy

Ms. Ruiz has been nominated by her assistant school leader. "In short, Ms. Ruiz has made and continues to make a huge impact on the lives of our students," said Ms. Galarza, HDA assistant school leader. Ms. Ruiz recently spent most of the summer of 2015 preparing for the 2015-16 school year. She helped with HDA summer program, attended a 5 day conference, and a 4 day STEM training so her students started the year at the best possible vantage point. At the end of the 2014-15 school year, over 70% of her class attained grade level proficiency in Reading, including the 85% of her students who use English as a second language (ESL).


Jarquita Evans

MS Art Teacher
Highland Park Renaissance Academy

Many adjectives are used to describe Ms. Evans by HPRA staff. Creative, innovative, active, engaging, challenging, caring and inspiring are just a few. Her students have been challenged to create 3-D objects, design sneakers and even create the costumes for the Christmas program in her class. The students have learned a great deal in these past few months. Rachel Talbert, HPRA instructional coach said "Engagement is her #1 asset. The students love her and the staff have nothing but good things to say about Ms. Evans!"


Cortney Kosmala-Jackson

HS History & Government Teacher
Cesar Chavez Academy High School

"Mrs. Kosmala-Jackson is the teacher I want all students to have," said Juan Martinez, school leader at CCAHS. This teacher eagerly seeks out opportunities for her students to thrive. Among her outstanding efforts over the years, she contributed to implementation of Advance Placement classes in Government and Human Geography at CCAHS, she brought the "We The People (WTP)" program with which students compete in the annual state competition to CCAHS and she brings students to meet business leaders and elected officials through her partnership with the Detroit Economics Club. Students have access to internships and education through her relationship with General Motor's Law Department, she takes students on local field trips to see the law in action, and students learn about educational, economic and political power of underrepresented communities during trips to the prestigious Damon Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School.


Lisa Casteel

3rd Grade Worker
Northridge Academy

Ms. Casteel has been nominated by her school leader. "Lisa Casteel is a teacher of excellence who gives her all to her class," said Latricia Brown-Coates, NA school leader. Among her talents as a teacher, she excels at keeping her students engaged, while also managing the environment to keep it positive. She is dedicated to her students. Ms. Brown-Coates adds: "Ms. Casteel's students realize and feel the love that she has for them." For individuals who may need additional help with academic challenges, she uses music therapy during the class period to maintain serenity for her students.


Melanie Burchard

7th Grade ELA Teacher
Cesar Chavez Academy Middle School

Ms. Burchard's class routines show off bell-to-bell rigorous instruction, student centered learning and the ability to weave test preparation into her daily curriculum. She has welcomed both teachers from CCAMS, as well as from other TLG academies into her classroom to model her instructional techniques and debrief with the observers after class. She has served as a helpful resource for her instructional coach, Brittiany Romero as she adapts to her new role at CCAMS. Ms. Romero said "I can say that she is the ideal teacher--she possesses skill in her craft but is constantly working to improve her craft. She is quite a leader in our building."


Sandra Sanchez

College & Career Advisor
Cesar Chavez Academy High School

"Ms. Sanchez plays a huge role in our school. She has helped our students stay on track for graduation and is largely responsible for our 89% graduation rate. Ms. Sanchez has helped our seniors apply and receive more than $5 million in scholarships annually and she is responsible for our seniors submitting more than 800 college applications in 2014-2015", said school leader Juan José Martínez. Martinez added, "Ms. Sanchez has very close relationships with our students and she has helped them believe that college is possible." Serving for nine years at CCAHS, Ms. Sanchez has built many community and college relationships that benefit our students, such as a TRIO partnership with Central Michigan University and "Gear Up" with Wayne State University. She facilitates an after-school club called "Club Clue," which allows students to have experiences in different cultural locations.


Heather Gravlin

4th Grade Teacher
Hope of Detroit Academy

Ms. Gravlin has been nominated by her instructional coach. "If you walk into her classroom, you will see students working together for a common goal," said Mr. Wright, HDA instructional coach. Ms. Gravlin has created an atmosphere where students help each other during classroom time. It is an environment of cooperative learning where everyone participates in the educational process. Ms. Gravlin has found engaging ways to encourage the practical use of STEM, which HDA has been focusing on this year, in her classroom. For Valentine's day, her students created a catapult with which they launched their Valentine's treats to one another. What a great way to generate excitement around STEM application!


Tim Hall

MS Science Teacher
Francis Reh Public School Academy

Mr. Hall has been nominated by his instructional coach, Candice Casey. Mr. Hall's methods for creating an incredible classroom environment vary greatly and entertain while educating his students. He applies hands-on lab activities using relevant materials so students get up close and personal with the science lesson topic in class. He incorporates rap, choreographed dances demonstrating cell movement, mnemonics to aid in memorization, videos and songs to teach students in a way they will always remember. He is a team player, working with his colleagues to provide opportunities for students to succeed, as well as giving up his prep hour to help students with math. "Mr. Hall sincerely cares about our students. He works hard every day to create and deliver lessons that will engage his students," said FRA instructional coach Ms. Casey.


Mitchell Burdick

HS Math Teacher
Dream Academy

Mr. Burdick has been nominated by Glenn Woodley, instructional coach. This is his first year on the Dream Academy staff, and "Mr. Burdick continues to show growth not typical of a first year teacher," said Mr. Woodley. His classroom management, lesson design and confidence have grown by leaps and bounds this year. Mr. Burdick gives up his planning time to tutor students in math, he also stays late providing instruction to any students who need help in our after school enrichment program.


Jennifer Hoskins

2nd Grade Teacher
Hope of Detroit Academy

Ms. Hoskins has been nominated by her instructional coach. "She truly wants the students to learn and will do whatever it takes for each student to meet their potential," said Mr. Wright, HDA instructional coach. Ms. Hoskins brings new ideas into the student environment and initiatives to help them improve academic performance.  She introduced the idea of individual student data binders in her classroom so each student can see their own successes in learning.  Activities have been integrated in the binders so the students can do independent work on the areas in which they need some extra practice.  This in turn helps them improve their own scores, leading to an increase in their skills to communicate about what they can do to help themselves improve. These new implementations in her classroom have even inspired other teachers to create and keep the binders for the kids in their classrooms, as well.


Lanora Miles

MS ELA Teacher
Highland Park Renaissance Academy

Ms. Miles has been nominated by her instructional coach, Rachel Talbert.  Ms. Miles is new to the HPRA family this year, and in her short time she has created a welcoming atmosphere for the kids.  Students in her class regularly enjoy reading novels in the classroom and become engaged in the learning process.  Ms. Miles integrates technology into the classroom as well, she is always available to advise her students on ELA.  You can tell she is genuinely connected to the students, as they look forward to seeing her everyday.  "(Ms. Miles) is a very upbeat, funny and outgoing teacher, who has a very close bond with her students," said HPRA instructional coach Ms.Talbert.


Ross Feldscher

HS History Teacher
Detroit Public Safety Academy

Mr. Feldscher has been nominated by Isaiah Pettway, school leader. Even though this is his first year on staff, "he has become a model teacher as recognized by his students and the staff," said Mr. Pettway. He manages to instill high expectations (with successful results) and develop good rapport with his students.  His classroom delivery of content is innovative and exciting for his students.  Mr. Feldsher also supports and volunteers for athletic programs at the school.  Despite all of this, he still finds time to sponsor after school activities and collaborate with the rest of the staff.


Chantra Williams

5th Grade Teacher
Francis Reh Public School Academy

Ms. Williams has been nominated by her instructional coach. "Chantra is an amazing teacher - a master of her craft!" said Ms. Casey, FRA instructional coach.  Ms. Williams uses "center groups" in the classroom.  Each student in a "center group" gets the opportunity to be a leader, and this in turn invigorates the students to feel empowered and gain confidence.  This allows for Ms. Williams to have one-on-one help sessions with students, or specific groups who may need differentiated instruction.  Her centers are so successful, other staff members have observed her classroom just to see how she organizes it.  Ms. Williams helps give professional development presentations on best practices at FRA.  She also pulls the community together by organizing activities for family night, this year it was all about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and the community is still talking about it!


Elvia Martinez Palos

MS Writing Teacher
Hope of Detroit Academy

"She (Ms. Martinez Palos) reaches each student at their level and pushes them forward," said HDA instructional coach Andrew Wright, who nominated Ms. Martinez Palos.  Ms. Martinez Palos is striving to become the best teacher she can be, for her first year of teaching, she hit the ground running.  She works countless hours both in and out of the classroom to put together lessons that teach grade level material AND fill in the gaps for students who may be struggling.  She encourages kids to enter writing contests, and finds creative ways for the students to show off their writing skills.  The contests allow the students a broader audience to appreciate their compositions, as a matter of fact, three of her students recently placed in one of those contests.


Ryan Maxwell

HS Science Teacher
Academy for Business & Technology Middle/High School

Mr. Maxwell joined the ABT teaching staff mid-year, but his enthusiasm could not be mistaken, as he took the leadership role in the science department, leading other new staff.  The interest in his student's success was clearly evident within the first few days of his tenure.  He introduced new classroom management systems into our high school classrooms, demonstrating how routines and procedures in place have positive results with older students as well as in traditional elementary classrooms.  He has opened up his classroom during his lunch hour, after school and even at prep hour to help students or staff.  "He has been a great asset to our staff and truly cares about the students we serve," says Ms. Daniels, ABT instructional coach.

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