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CLASS OF 2020 - 2021


Sherry Grup

Kindergarten Teacher, Discovery Academy

Ms. Sherri Grup has been a dedicated kindergarten teacher and member of the Discovery Academy (DA) family since they opened their doors in 2013. The relationships she builds and the creativity she fosters every year are truly what makes her a special teacher. Her NWEA growth scores are near the top every single year, but her true value to her students cannot be measured in test data. 

Ms. Grup’s students know what is expected of them in the classroom, and these expectations help prepare them as they advance to the next grade level each year. “I cannot think of a finer person to be the first teacher our students have when they enroll at Discovery. She sets the bar high for herself and her students, and that is why they continually experience such success,” said Noah Campbell, school leader at DA.

Thank you for your dedication, Ms. Grup!


Eric Thomas

Grade 10 Civics & Grade 11 World History Teacher, Detroit Public Safety Academy

Mr. Eric Thomas takes full advantage of his time spent in the classroom at Detroit Public Safety Academy (DPSA), making sure that students are engaged during their time with him. He keeps a consistent schedule, enforces classroom rules and procedures, and sets high expectations for his students. He takes every opportunity to communicate with his students and have constructive conversations to resolve any problems that arise along the way.

Mr. Thomas does a great job of finding that balance between setting those high standards and pushing students to meet them while at the same time developing a strong rapport with his classes. “The students respond well to the way Mr. Thomas holds them accountable and keeps helping them become the best versions of themselves they can be,” said Melissa Nichols, instructional coach at DPSA.

Thank you for all that you do, Mr. Thomas!


Amira Abunadi

Grade 3 Math & Science Teacher,
East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy

Ms. Amira Abunadi has touched many lives since the start of her time as a third grade Math and Science teacher at East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy (ECUEA). She is always seeking out ways to help others and to improve the learning experience for her students. Ms. Abunadi utilizes innovative lessons for her students, takes the time to build relationships, and lets them know they can do great things. 

Ms. Abunadi mentors those around her and shares her expertise to help make her team stronger. She is a master teacher with a big heart. “She models to her students how to work as one and uplift each other. We are so very fortunate to have her as a fellow teacher and as a friend,” said Amy Rummel, instructional coach at ECUEA.

Thank you for your kindness and positivity, Ms. Abunadi!


Chrisantha Murray

Grades 9-12 Math Teacher,
Academy for Business & Technology High

Ms. Chrisantha Murray works tirelessly with her students at the Academy for Business & Technology High (ABTH) to ensure they understand each math concept before moving on to the next. She often spends her time after school, making certain that no child is left behind. Her love of math is well known, and she shares it with her students every day, helping them learn to love it. Ms. Murray is always finding new techniques that pique the interest of even the most reluctant learner.

Ms. Murray’s love for math has not been dampened as we have learned to navigate all of the changes that this past year has brought us. “All summer long, her virtual student meetings had the best attendance. Her students looked forward to being in her virtual classroom no matter the time of day,” said Carmen Willingham, school leader at ABTH. 

Thank you for sharing your innovative teaching methods with your students, Ms. Murray!


Shaina Schluckebier

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher,
Francis Reh Academy

Ms. Shaina Schluckebier has been running the preschool program at Francis Reh Academy (FRA) for nearly 10 years. Every August, she diligently collects packets from parents and makes calls to get students registered for school. She is the one that makes it possible for this program to be available to the FRA families.

Ms. Schluckebier provides differentiated activities for her students. She takes the time to understand each student's life to help them grow physically, mentally and emotionally. She notes each student's individual development to plan how she will meet their needs daily. "Her gentle and loving personality, leadership skills and positive attitude are just some of the outstanding qualities that allow for me, her co-workers and her students to look up to her each day at FRA," said Jessica Cronk, instructional coach at FRA.

Thank you for setting your students up for success, Ms. Schluckebier!


Linda Pinder

Grades 9-12 Special Education Teacher,
Hope of Detroit Academy High School

Ms. Linda Pinder is an integral part of the Hope of Detroit Academy (HoDA) team. She goes above and beyond to give the students anything that they need. As the lead teacher in the special education department, Ms. Pinder advocates for all of her students while also empowering them to advocate for themselves. She collaborates well with all of the general education teachers, working with them to ensure that every child has access to high-quality educational experiences.

Additionally, Ms. Pinder is the head of the school social committee. She is always putting on fun activities for the staff that boost the school's overall culture and climate. "Ms. Pinder is a professional, and she inspires all that are around her," said Ali Abdel, school leader at HoDA.

Thank you for being a team player, Ms. Pinder!


Ikiya Threatt

Grade 5 Teacher,
Joy Preparatory Academy

Ms. Ikiya Threatt leads her fifth grade classroom at Joy Preparatory Academy (JPA) through the positive interactions she has with her students and their families. She focuses on building relationships and goes above and beyond to show that she cares. She sets high expectations for her students and they consistently do their best to meet them. 

Ms. Threatt exudes the power of positive thinking. The impact of her mindset on her students and everyone around her is evident. She volunteers to step in without being asked and her students gravitate to her. “Ms. Threatt’s selflessness and driven spirit is seen through her actions that demonstrate her willingness to fight for children,” said Adasina Philyaw, school leader at JPA. 

Thank you for being an advocate for your students, Ms. Threatt!


Erin Smith

Grades 6-12 Social Studies & Special Education Teacher,
Smith Academy for Excellence

Ms. Erin Smith serves in multiple roles at Smith Academy for Excellence (SAFE). Not only is she a social studies teacher, but she is also the special education teacher and a Title I teacher. She spends a great deal of time working with SAFE students most in need, communicating with them and their families. Ms. Smith volunteers at after-school events and has included many students in events and trips that she has access to outside of regular school programming. 

Ms. Smith has been consistent since the first day of SAFE’s existence. She knows the value of quality relationships and builds those relationships daily. “I have always been able to rely on her. I can be certain that she will be responsive and diligent any time I call on her,” said Corey Smith, school leader at SAFE. 

Thank you for always being there for the students at SAFE, Ms. Smith!


Julie Durham

Grade 1 Teacher,
Wildwood Environmental Academy

Ms. Julie Durham goes above and beyond for her first grade students at Wildwood Environmental Academy (WEA). She has continued to find ways to connect with her students through technology in a meaningful way, even during remote learning. She has held Zoom meetings from her classroom so that her students could still see their class pet, a bunny. Ms. Durham also ran her Zoom meetings at different times of the day to visit and teach all of her students when it was convenient for their families.

Ms. Durham has also invited her students who are learning remotely to log into Zoom and join the students who are learning in person so that everyone feels included. “She goes above and beyond using technology to ensure that all of her students learn everything she has to teach them,” said Gretchen Mossing, instructional coach at WEA. 

Thank you for making all of your students feel included, Ms. Durham!


Pamela Bates

Grade 3 Teacher
Saginaw Preparatory Academy

Ms. Pamela Bates has been part of the Saginaw Preparatory Academy (SPA) family for nearly ten years. She does a terrific job no matter the grade level or group of students she teaches. She sets high expectations for her students and they rise to meet the classroom standards. She is consistently interested and involved in teacher development opportunities to grow and give her students her best.

Ms. Bates builds lasting relationships by listening and always being there for the students when they need her. She is continuously incorporating new and engaging activities and resources in her class to increase student engagement. "Students don't like to be pushed in the moment, but always remember those who saw them for who they could be rather than who they were in that moment," said James Kenney, school leader at SPA.

Thank you for always encouraging your students, Ms. Bates!


Ayunna Bentley

Grades K-8 Special Education Teacher,
Northridge Academy

Ms. Ayunna Bentley has been a great addition to the Northridge Academy (NA) team. Her efficiency, organizational skills, and outgoing personality contribute to her willingness to take on any tasks. She is friendly and makes it a point to know and help everyone and make them feel welcome. Ms. Bentley displays a unique passion and a sense of urgency in getting the help that our children need. She is flexible and supportive. For the sake of learning, she involves herself in just about every aspect of what is happening at NA. 

Ms. Bentley has been a key person at Northridge Academy during the last year as we have navigated through a different way of teaching and learning. "Her presence is calming, she is encouraging, innovative, and her focus is on the improvement and betterment of our children and even the adults," said Latricia Brown, school leader at NA.

Thank you for making everyone feel supported, Ms. Bentley!


Carly Settle

Grade 3 Teacher,
César Chávez Academy Upper Elementary

Ms. Carly Settle is an organized and effective teacher who is well-liked by her students and colleagues at César Chávez Academy Upper Elementary (CCAUE). She began this school year as a hybrid teacher and helped pioneer a new way of educating students. Ms. Settle has consistently delivered exceptional teaching and kept open communication with her students and their families. Her dedication is evident in her class's NWEA scores, where nearly 80% of students made their winter ELA and math goals. 

Despite the challenges of teaching and learning during a pandemic, Ms. Settle has remained positive and resilient. “She is a leader among teachers here and has been a reliable confidant for her third-grade colleagues. She will always help staff and students alike and she will do it with a smile,” said Jaime Steward, instructional coach at CCAUE.

Thank you for your dedication to your students, Ms. Settle!


Tonya Brooks

HS Technology Teacher
Achieve Career Preparatory Academy

Ms. Tonya Brooks uses her wide range of expertise to support many different programs at Achieve Career Preparatory Academy (ACPA). She manages students enrolled in online dropout recovery coursework ranging from French to forensic science. She also teaches basic computer typing skills and Google suite, which has been paramount these last two school years. 

She is also a member of the school improvement team, technology team, and computer club sponsor. Ms. Brooks takes her roles very seriously and always does what she can to meet the students' and school's needs. Additionally, she assists in managing ACPA’s social media sites and webpage. “Her encouragement to keep the students going and patience are unmatched,” said Julieta Flowers, school leader at ACPA. 

Thank you for always encouraging your students, Ms. Brooks!


Kristin Stowe

Grade 2 Teacher,
Mildred C. Wells Academy

Ms. Kristin Stowe has been a dedicated, hardworking, and passionate educator at Mildred C. Wells Academy (MCWA) for the past six years. She regularly attends professional development opportunities and welcomes new ideas to help her master her teaching skills. She goes above and beyond to find resources for her students to use in and outside the classroom. Ms. Stowe uses Donors Choose grants to help organize and transform her classroom into an engaging learning environment for her students. 

She builds and sustains long-lasting relationships with her students and families. Whether it’s volunteering to help with school events, extra-curricular activities, or completing her daily duties, everyone at MCWA can always count on her. “Ms. Stowe always shares new resources and innovative ways of using technology in the classroom with her colleagues. Which has been very much appreciated, especially since we’ve incorporated virtual instruction and learning at MCWA,” said Latrisha Corona, school leader at MCWA.

Thank you for going above and beyond for your students and your MCWA family, Ms. Stowe!


Annalysia Kua

Kindergarten Teacher,
César Chávez Academy Lower Elementary

Ms. Annalysia Kue is an asset to the Cesar Chavez Academy Lower Elementary (CCALE) family and especially to her kindergarten team. As a lead teacher, she is someone her team can always depend on for support and guidance. She teaches with ease, patience and creativity while maintaining a structured learning environment for all. Her students are excited, eager to learn and happy whenever they walk into her room.

Ms. Kue builds her students’ self-esteem each day by incorporating positive “I am” affirmations. These statements remind her students of all the things they can love about themselves and what they have to offer the world. “Whether it is observing her teaching in the classroom, supporting her colleagues or working with students, she is an inspiration. We are fortunate to have Ms. Kue as a part of our CCA family,” said Gabriela Jaime, school leader at CCALE.

Keep up the great work, Ms. Kue!


Erica McGardle

Grade 2 Teacher,
George Crockett Academy

Ms. Erica McGardle is a dynamic second grade teacher at George Crockett Academy (GCA) who strives to increase academic achievement for her young scholars. She is a caring teacher who excels in understanding the needs of her students. In addition to inspiring her students to learn, she sets an example for other staff members. This year, she led a presentation on how to organize and customize Google Classrooms to better meet students' needs.

Ms. McGardle does not simply stick to the textbook. Instead, she uses non-traditional methods of teaching and finds creative ways to make learning fun in her classroom. She stays up-to-date with best practices and inspires other teachers to enhance their instruction as well. She collaborates with staff and families to provide an exceptional learning experience for her young scholars. “We are incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to have such an exceptional member on our team,” said Thomas Goodley, school leader at GCA.

Thank you for inspiring your students and colleagues, Ms. McGardle!


Benjamin Meyers

Chemistry & Physical Science Teacher
César Chávez Academy High School

Mr. Benjamin Meyers began his career at Cesar Chavez Academy High (CCAH) as a paraprofessional educator, but after earning his master’s degree in science, he transitioned to teaching Chemistry and Physical Science. He connects with his students and builds lasting relationships with them. His students are clear on the expectations while they are in the classroom and remain engaged throughout the lesson.

Mr. Meyers supports the students at CCAH both inside and outside the classroom by assisting with various clubs and extracurricular activities. Throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has proven himself to be a highly effective virtual teacher. “Mr. Meyers is an excellent teacher who keeps getting better and better. He is always prepared, creative, professional and engaging. We are fortunate to have Mr. Meyers as a teacher at CCAH,” said Dr. Juan Martinez, school leader at CCAH.

Great job keeping your students engaged during virtual learning, Mr. Meyers!

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