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CLASS OF 2017-2018


Lindsey Phillips

Kindergarten Teacher,
Joy Preparatory Academy

Lindsey Phillips' classroom is a visually rich environment that inspires her students every day. From the moment you walk into her classroom, you are transported into a magical place for learning.  Colorful, easy-to-read postings line the walls in such a creative way, that Joy Preparatory Academy (JPA) has asked Ms. Phillips to design all of the public space decor.  

It is important to note that the contributions Ms. Phillips makes to the JPA community aren't merely cosmetic.  Her instruction engages every student, challenging them with rigorous learning opportunities. Implementing academic vocabulary such as "observe" and "analyze" with her students has them rising to her high expectations everyday. "Ms. Phillips acts as an enthusiastic mentor to her fellow teachers. She models, offers advice, and creates resources for her colleagues," said Jessica Rice, JPA school leader.

You inspire us, Ms. Phillips!


Shelby Schmidbauer

Social Studies Teacher
Cesar Chavez Academy Middle School

Ms. Schmidbauer is not only a phenomenal teacher, but she is a phenomenal member of the César Chávez Academy Middle School (CCAMS) community. She enters CCAMS with an inherent focus on the students and their learning. Thanks to Ms. Schmidbauer, students are not only excelling in social studies content, but are also able to participate in STEM programming through the DAP-CEP program.

Ms. Schmidbauer's use of best practices extends into the classrooms of teachers that she mentors, thus supporting students across grade levels.  She is committed to improving literacy and writing in her Social Studies classroom. By incorporating technology she pushes students to not only learn but to demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of ways. Ms. Schmidbauer continuously analyzes her students' data to improve her instructional practices.

Ms. Schmidbauer embraced the opportunity to move into the 8th grade this year, causing a seamless transition for her students. "8th grade can be a difficult age to motivate, but Ms. Schmidbauer's enthusiasm for teaching and learning is evident in her work and the work of her students," said Brittiany Romero instructional coach.

Congratulations, Ms. Schmidbauer, job well done!


Giuliana Feamster

2nd Grade Teacher,
Hope of Detroit Academy Elementary School

Giuliana Feamster contributes to a positive environment at Hope of Detroit Academy Elementary. Not only does she go above and beyond to help her students, but her fellow staff as well. Ms. Feamster is not shy about putting in the hard work that goes hand-in-hand with teaching. 

Besides leading the second grade team, she volunteers as a mentor for reading/math centers. She also raises staff morale by organizing potluck luncheons. "Every time I walk into her room, she is teaching with so much energy, even if it's at the end of the day, and it's 90 degrees in the room," said Instructional Coach Jennifer Choi. 

Thank you for your positive energy, Ms. Feamster!​


Jessica Cumpf

11th Grade ELA Teacher
Cesar Chavez Academy High School

Jessica Cumpf is a third year teacher at César Chávez Academy High School. She was elevated to the 11th grade because of the importance of the M-STEP and the SAT. With her lessons she is able to prioritize what is being taught and why and the learning outcomes expected of her students.  

One of the ways she fosters her positive student relationships is by serving as the 11th grade class moderator (she has been with the same group since they were freshman.) Ms. Cumpf is friendly and works well with her colleagues. "I'm sure there will be many students that will remember Ms. Cumpf and the positive impact she had on their high school experiences," said School Leader Juan Martinez.

Thank you for all that you do, Ms. Cumpf!


Emily Beaver

2nd Grade Teacher
Northridge Academy

Emily Beaver embodies the mission of Northridge Academy (NA), "to educate the whole child." She works collaboratively with her colleagues and supports them through new instructional practices. Her ability to engage her students, deliver rigorous lessons, meet deadlines and maintain excellent communication with parents contributes to her success as a teacher and the academic success of students at NA.

Ms. Beaver's positivity impacts the environment at NA, leading to a conducive setting for learning and teaching. Her students also get a creative choice in the way Ms. Beaver has set up the flexible seating in the classroom. "She speaks up in meetings in support of what's right and does not go along just to get along with her peers," said Latricia Brown, school leader.

Thank you for your continuous support, Ms. Beaver!


Tracy Durandetto

6th Grade Math & Science Teacher
Hope of Detroit Academy Middle/High School

Tracy Durandetto is a 10 year veteran teacher, specializing in mathematics and science at Hope of Detroit Academy. She played an integral role in the opening of the new middle and high school (HoDA MS/HS). Ms. Durandetto goes above and beyond daily to ensure that her students are succeeding.

In addition to coaching softball, she serves as a mentor to other teachers and she is also a member of the school improvement team. "Ms. Durandetto has made an impact on all of her students. Students always return to visit her and ask for tutoring," said Ali Abdel, school leader.

We appreciate your energetic leadership, Ms. Durandetto!


Michelle Pope

4th Grade Math & Science Teacher
East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy

Mrs. Michelle Pope has been consistently letting her light shine at East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy (ECUEA) in so many ways. Mrs. Pope has successfully coached the ECUEA Math Bowl Teams to placing twice in the last four years. She has also secured scholarships from the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry for their MSI Teacher Program for herself and another Science teacher for the last two years. Currently Mrs. Pope is sponsoring a "Donor's Choose" for her classroom library.

Additionally Mrs. Pope has received an award for Ball State University's Best  Practices Special Recognition, which only further speaks to her commitment to her students and staff at ECUEA. Her classroom is described as student-friendly, organized and calm -- making it inviting for anyone who enters. "It is her consistent supply of encouragement and positivity for her students and for her school that has the greatest impact. We are so lucky to have her as part of the ECUEA team," said Instructional Coach Amy Rummel. 

Thank you for your leadership, Mrs. Pope!​


Joel Johnson

Computer/Technology Teacher
Mildred C. Wells Academy

Mr. Joel Johnson has quickly become so much more than your average computer teacher at Mildred C. Wells Academy (MCWA). He consistently goes above and beyond just teaching computers to all grades, Mr. Johnson also helps every teacher with their technology questions or concerns. His eagerness to help has transformed his role to so much more. Mr. Johnson has become the school photographer, technology specialist and test coordinator, all with a smile on his face!

Mr. Johnson's patience with students and staff makes it easy for them to ask for assistance with any technology needs that arise, they know they can go to him and that he will always do his best to help. "He has our kindergartners using their own computers, fourth and fifth graders using everything from Google Classroom to PowerPoint, and middle schoolers using 3D printers," said Instructional Coach Emily Wenger. 

Thank you for sharing your expertise with us, Mr. Johnson!


Cheryl Dinnan

K-2 Lead Interventionist
Cesar Chavez Academy Lower Elementary

Ms. Cheryl Dinnan is dedicated to Cesar Chavez Academy Lower Elementary (CCALE) and her main focus is data driven student achievement.  Not only is Ms. Dinnan consistantly encouraging her students to think outside the box, but she also pushes them to higher levels of thinking in her lessons.  Ms. Dinnan is described as reflective in her teaching and is therefore always striving to improve her craft through professional development.

"Cheryl is a team player that is always available for guidance and support. She has been a mentor for new teachers and interventionists as well as a go to person for support staff regarding interventions and testing," said Instructional Coach, Kristen Teno. 

Thank you for your positive influence, Ms. Dinnan!​


Matthew Fleming

Grades 6-8 Social Studies
Northridge Academy

Mr. Matthew Fleming brings a lot to the table at Northridge Academy. Not only is he an expert in his content area, but he presents it to the students in a way that captivates them and  holds their interest. He relates well with all of his students and truly brings the social studies content to life.

Mr. Fleming works well with all his colleagues and brings a positive attitude to all that he does.  He takes the initiative to bring resolve to issues that he has identified and supports.  He is very thoughtful and reflective about his practice and always give 100%. "He demonstrates to his peers leadership and growth mindset," said School Leader, Latricia Brown.

Keep up the great work, Mr. Fleming!


Belinda Weaver

2nd Grade Teacher
Highland Park Renaissance Academy

Ms. Belinda Weaver, second grade teacher at Highland Park Renaissance Academy (HPRA) always brings a positive energy into the building. Anyone that spends time in her classroom can see that she goes the extra mile to ensure that her students are successful. When you see her interacting with students, you can see that they are receiving the love and care that our teachers strive to provide.

The way she monitors and manages her classroom makes her an excellent role model for our newer educators at HPRA. "She is a team player, leader, and role model, but so humble that she doesn't even realize how much of an impression she makes on our young educators." said Instructional Coach Jennifer Hahn. 

​Thank you for being a great role model, Ms. Weaver!


Renee Harrison

Grades 6-8 Science Teacher
Academy for Business & Technology MS/HS

Ms. Renee Harrison is a dynamic middle school science teacher at The Academy for Business and Technology Middle School (ABT). Ms. Harrison is always using creative and innovative ideas to motivate and capture the attention of her middle school students. When entering Ms. Harrison's classroom, you can expect to find students fully engaged while working
in small groups or with a partner on interesting concepts and/or projects.

Hands on experiences and real world concepts help Ms. Harrison bring science to life for her students, getting them excited about the subject."Ms. Harrison's commitment and dedication to teaching science "a step above the rest" does not go unnoticed." said School Leader Carmen Willingham.

Thank you for being a valuable asset to the ABT team, Ms. Harrison!


Anisha Barnwell

4th Grade Teacher
George Crockett Academy

Ms. Anisha Barnwell, fourth grade teacher at George Crockett Academy (GCA) works tirelessly to make sure the needs of students, familys, and staff are met. She has increased the level of proficiency her students have with technology by integrating it into not only her classroom, but into the take home work of her students as well. Ms. Barnwell prepares her students to be critical thinkers by providing them opportunities to complete projects that enrich their minds.

Ms. Barnwell is a driving force in maintaining a positive culture and climate with staff and students at GCA. "Her warm spirit and sense of humor provides a sense of calm during difficult situations. She offers her services to anyone in need and encourages everyone to become involved in strengthening relationships with all stakeholders." said School Leader Monique Woodland-Phillips. 

Your leadership and positivity is appreciated, Ms. Barnwell!


Pete Danielski

Grades 6-8 Social Studies Teacher
Francis Reh Public School Academy

Mr. Pete Danielski shares his passion for social studies with his middle school students at Francis Reh Academy (FRA) by helping them understand their world and its history every day. He provides a wide variety of learning opportunities and encourages students to work collaboratively through group projects that are then presented, which helps them gain confidence as they learn. 

Mr. Danielski helps students recognize their talents and feel positive about themselves by taking the time to connect with them. He is very in tune to his students needs and is the first to reach out to help them get back on track to success. "He makes students, parents, and teammates feel welcome and supported and we are so thankful to have him on our team!" said Kate Scheid Weber, school leader at FRA.

Thank you for your dedication, Mr. Danielski!


Valerie Scarsella

Art Teacher
Cesar Chavez Academy East

Ms. Valerie Scarsella specializes in teaching Art to students of all grade levels at Cesar Chavez Academy East, but that does not stop her from integrating both English/Language Arts and Mathematics into her lessons. She has made a significant difference in the lives of students who often lack the knowledge of "the arts." Serving on various committees, she promotes our mission and the vision we have for children.

Whether it's using her lunch time to allow students to make up missing work, or mentoring many students who have a strong desire to learn more about art, Ms. Scarsella always puts her students first. She also assists teachers in times of need without question. "She has been an important member of our staff for three years. Our staff and students are so lucky to have her!" said school leader Adasina Philyaw.

Thank you for sharing your artistic expertise, Ms. Scarsella!


Molly Fraile

5th Grade Teacher
Cesar Chavez Academy Upper Elementary

Ms. Molly Fraile is a veteran fifth grade teacher at Cesar Chavez Academy Upper Elementary (CCAUE). She started her career with The Leona Group seventeen years ago and her focus has always been on the quality of education she delivers to her students each and every day. Ms. Fraile is fluent in Spanish and this knowledge allows her to reach her students on a deeper level. Concepts of each lesson Ms. Fraile teaches are chunked into small parts allowing students to catch on to concepts easily and creates small skill sets that can be easily retaught.

Ms. Fraile has been a mentor to many teachers who have decided to begin their careers at CCAUE. Her knowledge and insight is paramount and respected among all the staff who work with her. She is committed to her student's which has lead to more students being proficient on the M-STEP each year than the previous year. "Ms. Fraile is truly a master educator who inspires others to do their best and gain knowledge in their craft." said Thomas Goodley, school leader.

We appreciate your leadership, Ms. Fraile!


Jenelle Patton

Grades 6-8 Science Teacher
Saginaw Preparatory Academy

Ms. Jenelle Patton has an amazing relationship with her middle school science students at Saginaw Preparatory Academy (SPA). She expects the best from them, and they consistently not only meet, but exceed her expectations. For the last two years Ms. Patton has organized a school wide science fair, which has been elevated to a very successful event impressing not only the staff and students, but their parents as well. Ms. Patton is an asset to SPA.

Two years ago, Ms. Patton was asked to change subject areas and she took on the challenge without hesitation. She went into the change with an open mind and has greatly improved the student's interest in science. She really gives her all to SPA every day.  "Her willingness to try new ideas and experiments is the reason students love going to her class. She has inspired other grade level teachers to experiment and push their classes to engage higher level science lessons." said Molly Rundell, school leader.

Thank you for working hard for our students, Ms. Patton!


Tayler Pettway

Algebra 1 & 2 Teacher
Detroit Public Safety Academy

Ms. Tayler Pettway gives her all to her students and to Detroit Public Safety Academy (DPSA). She has worked tirelessly in the math department providing students with intense individualized tutoring, creating interactive Math units, using groups in her content, and creating a collaborative work environment which allows students to learn from one another. Her impact can be seen in the improvement of benchmark assessment scores as well as her students excitement to come to her class every day.

Ms. Pettway cares about teaching content, but her concern also reaches beyond that. "She supports the students, the school's initiatives and she is committed to seeing DPSA become the beacon of light it is destined to be." said Isaiah Pettway, school leader. Her undeniable impact is evident by her students and their love of being in her classroom.

Your hard work does not go unnoticed, Ms. Pettway!

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