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CLASS OF 2021-2022

1. October 2021 - Lisa Bachman - DISC.jpg

Lisa Bachman

Grade 1 Teacher,

Discovery Academy

Ms. Lisa Bachman has been a positive asset to the Discovery Academy (DA) family for the past four years. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her years in education and is always willing to share that with her colleagues. Her number one priority in her classroom is building relationships and that is made evident by how much her students love her. 


Ms. Bachman was recognized by her peers as Discovery Academy's Teacher of the Year last year. Despite the uncertainty and challenges, she persevered and remained positive. “She leads by example in her classroom and around the building, and it’s difficult to not smile when she is around,” said Noah Campbell, school leader at Discovery Academy.


Thank you for always smiling, Ms. Bachman

2. October 2021 Andrew Cojeen - FRA.jpeg

Andrew Cojeen

Grade 6-8 Math,

Francis Reh Academy

Mr. Andrew Cojeen has been and continues to be a leader for the middle school team at Francis Reh Academy (FRA). He goes above and beyond daily to ensure that his colleagues and the students have what they need to successfully begin their day. In addition to his teaching role, he also assists with the sports teams at FRA, which is why he has built such a great relationship with the staff and students.

Mr. Cojeen shows up with solutions that are from the heart and empowers students and staff to strive for excellence every day. “He is the definition of the phrase ‘Always here, always pushing, and never giving up!’ He is an inspiration to me and our team which shows in everything he does here at FRA,” said instructional coach, Jacinta Seals-Carter.


Thank you for being an asset to the staff and students at FRA, Mr. Cojeen!

3. November 2021 - Ekaete Udoroh - ABTE.jpg

Ekaete Udoroh

Grade 3 Teacher,

Academy for Business & Technology Elementary

At Academy for Business & Technology Elementary (ABTE), Ms. Ekaete Udoroh works very hard daily to meet the needs of her students both academically and emotionally. She has great patience with her students and her calming personality allows her to connect with them. Ms. Udoroh is a fighter and is able to overcome challenges with ease and grace. 


Ms. Udoroh goes the extra mile in connecting with her students. Her students know that she truly cares about them. She talks to them one-on-one and recognizes their needs. No matter what happens the day before, her students know that each day is a fresh start. “Without a doubt, Ms. Udoroh has made a great impact on the lives of her students,” said Alberta Galarza, school leader at ABTE.


Thank you for your commitment to the ABTE students, Ms. Udoroh!

4. November 2021 - Thomas Moore - ABTH.jpg

Thomas Moore

Physical Education & Health,
Academy for Business & Technology High

Mr. Thomas Moore possesses a genuine interest in the students at the Academy for Business & Technology High (ABTH). He intentionally creates innovative, energetic and meaningful lessons.  When teaching health, he stresses the importance of self-care and having a healthy lifestyle. He holds high expectations and cultivates a sense of belonging with the students. His organizational and classroom management skills contribute to the overall success of his students. 


Mr. Moore is always positive and is ready to assist whenever needed. It is apparent that the students feel at ease when in his class and his enthusiasm encourages the students to engage, no matter what content is being taught. “Mr. Moore has an infectious, pleasant demeanor and you cannot help but to feel good when you are in his presence!” said Carmen Willingham, school leader at ABTH.


Thank you for always encouraging your students, Mr. Moore!

5. December 2021 - Kristy Hood - ECUEA.jpg

Kristy Hood

Grade 3 English Language Arts,

East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy

Ms. Kristy Hood works tirelessly to ensure that her third-grade students at East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy (ECUEA) are not only prepared for their state assessments but also to move on to the fourth grade. She has built a warm and inviting classroom that her students are happy to visit. She seeks out new and innovative ways to engage her students. Ms. Hood has successfully implemented small groups and centers, which the students love.


She is a mentor teacher and is a leader in her field for the elementary teachers at ECUEA. Ms. Hood goes out of her way to help students on her own time, often staying late to tutor students that need that little extra push. “Ms. Hood is an amazing teacher, she is patient, kind and caring. She is always thinking of new ways and better ways to help her students” said Amy Rummel, instructional coach at ECUEA. 


Thank you for making a difference in your students' lives, Ms. Hood!

6. December 2021 - Allie Langwald - HoDAH.jpg

Allie Langwald

Athletic Director & Physical Education,
Hope of Detroit Academy High School

Ms. Allie Langwald is so much more than a physical education teacher and athletic director for the students and fellow staff at Hope of Detroit Academy (HoDA). She is all about the students and providing them with creative experiences. Ms. Langwald has taken the lead on running the eSports program and funded the equipment needed through DonorsChoose campaigns and established community partnerships.


She was the team leader for the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition that HoDA went on to win, which provided an opportunity to form a partnership with Ferris State University to complete a STEAM lab. “Ms. Langwald has been an inspiration to our staff and students. She has led various initiatives that have given our students an outlet to give back to their community,” said Andrew Wright, assistant school leader at HoDA.


Thank you for sharing your creativity with your students, Ms. Langwald!

7. January 2022 - Tamara Henderson - SPA.png

Tamara Henderson

Grade 1 Teacher,

Saginaw Preparatory Academy

Ms. Tamara Henderson has been a valuable member of the Saginaw Preparatory Academy (SPA) team for over 17 years and during this time she has consistently supported our students and elementary team. She is a teacher who is continually finding new and creative ways to engage her students and bring excitement to the learning process for her students.


For Thanksgiving, Ms. Henderson had her entire class create a story about a turkey who was hiding on a farm. Each student created a page of the book with their own artwork and silly additions to the story about where they would hide. She honored her students with their first self-authored published book and shared it with the class!  “You could see how proud each student was as Ms. Henderson read each entry from the book to her class!” said James Kenney, school leader at SPA.

Thank you for bringing out your students' creativity, Ms. Henderson!

8. January 2022 - Rebecca Pessler - CCAH.jpg

Rebecca Pessler

Grades 11-12 Advanced Algebra & Algebra 2,

Cesar Chavez Academy High

Rebecca Pessler is an exemplary mathematics teacher and outstanding member of Cesar Chavez Academy High (CCAH) team. She is an expert in her field of mathematics and connects student learning to real world examples. Because of Ms. Pessler's excitement, passion and energy towards teaching and learning, her students love being in her math class.


During the 2021-2022 school year, Ms. Pessler also became the girls' Volleyball Coach. She cultivated relationships between coach and students, as well as student to student on her volleyball team. Ms. Pessler led the Girls' Volleyball Team to a District Championship this year.

In addition to being an excellent teacher and coach, Ms. Pessler is a role model to colleagues and students. “She is a proud member of our School Improvement Team. Ms. Pessler never misses an opportunity to collaborate with others and share ideas. CCAH is lucky to have her on our team!” said Carissa Rusnak, instructional coach at CCAH.

Thank you for sharing your excitement with your colleagues and students, Ms. Pessler!

9. February 2022 - Pamela Pena - CCAUE.JPG

Pamela Pena

Grade 5 Teacher,

Cesar Chavez Academy Upper Elementary

Ms. Pamela Pena has been with the Cesar Chavez Academy (CCAUE) family for over 15 years. She excels at working with students who present with high needs and breaks down content for students making it easier for them to grasp grade-level concepts. Ms. Pena ensures that she has a strong relationship with each student in her classroom. The relationships that she develops allow her to work with students on an individual level to make sure they learn the standards for fifth grade.


Ms. Pena is a committed educator and makes it a priority to reach every child, no matter what. She will contact parents daily if needed to make sure students attend school and complete their work. “Thank you, Ms. Pena, for your many years of hard work in education. We are so grateful to have you on our team each and every day,” said Jaime Steward, instructional coach at CCAUE.


Thank you for working hard to build relationships with your students, Ms. Pena!

10. February 2022 - Carrie Drudge - SAFE.jpg

Carrie Drudge

Grades 4 & 5 Teacher,

Smith Academy for Excellence

Ms. Carrie Drudge has impacted many lives at Smith Academy for Excellence (SAFE). She offers very personalized instruction and activities for all of her students at any level they need. The students that get the privilege of having Ms. Drudge as a teacher get an instructor that is persistent and passionate.  She works hard to motivate each individual child to reach their full potential. She celebrates with each student as they excel and make the gains they have worked so hard to accomplish. 


Ms. Drudge has been a mentor teacher to many colleagues at SAFE which exemplifies her team-first attitude. “Her passion and consistency have been a great encouragement to me as well. Ms. Drudge has made a difference in my life because she is always willing to do whatever is necessary to help our children and to help me. Her service is invaluable and her impact is immense,” said Corey Smith, school leader at SAFE. 


Thank you for encouraging your students to always do their best, Ms. Drudge!

11. March 2022 - Andrew Mehltretter - FRA.jpg

Andrew Mehltretter

Grades K-3 Reading Intervention,

Francis Reh Academy

Mr. Andrew Mehltretter is an exceptionally hard worker that goes above and beyond when it comes to teaching. He puts his students at Francis Reh Academy (FRA) first and is constantly working at home and after school to ensure that he is giving the instruction and high-quality reading intervention that his students deserve. He dives into professional development opportunities and uses what he's learned to help students grow as readers. He is actively using Orton-Gillingham methods to help young readers master critical early-literacy concepts.


Mr. Mehltretter consistently finds new ways to connect students and content to make learning fun. “Students are thriving in his care and we appreciate all he's doing to celebrate the unique needs of every child on his caseload. He is also willing to jump in wherever he's needed. This year has required many of us to wear multiple hats and Mr. Mehltretter has worn more than most,” said Kate Schied-Weber, school leader at FRA.

12. March 2022 - Jacquelyn Ragonesi - HoDAE.jpeg

Jacquelyn Ragonesi

Grade 5 Teacher,

Hope of Detroit Academy Elementary

Ms. Jacquelyn Ragonesi is a valued member of the Hope of Detroit Academy Elementary (HoDAE) staff. She has held various positions during her time at the school and continues to take on new challenges each year. Her passion for student growth is evident in the way she teaches her lessons. If you walk into Ms. Ragonesi's classroom today, you will witness her students participating in hands-on experiences and deep discussions all while they are having fun learning.


Ms. Ragonesi knows how to take academics to the next level for her students and really gets them to enjoy learning. Beyond academics, her love for her students is clear by the community she has built. Her students hold each other accountable and care for one another. “Ms. Ragonesi does a great job of motivating her students to learn. She is dedicated to her profession and takes her job very seriously,” said Ali Abdel, school leader at HoDAE.

13. March 2022 - Bailee Rinderle -DISC.jpg

Bailee Rinderle

Autism Wing,

Discovery Academy

Ms. Bailee Rinderle has been an essential member of the Autism Wing at Discovery Academy (DA) since she graduated from college. Though being in a self-contained classroom was not part of her initial teaching plan, she accepted the challenge and found success immediately. No matter how hectic it gets, Ms. Rinderle always has a smile on her face and keeps moving forward for her kids.


She helps her students set goals and celebrates with them when they meet and exceed them. Ms. Rinderle works hard to show her students how fun learning is by using games to help them develop social skills. “Even on difficult days, she never loves them even an ounce less, and that positivity and love radiates to those around her.  She makes everyone around her better just by setting the example of how to love our kids above everything else,” said Noah Campbell, school leader at DA.

14. March 2022 - Teenickia Dunbar - GCA.jpg

Teenickia Dunbar

Grades 6-8 Math,

George Crockett Academy

Ms. Teenickia Dunbar works hard to help the entire middle school at George Crockett Academy (GCA) run smoothly. She utilizes technology, note-taking, and both whole and small group instruction to help students reach their learning goals. She meets with them during her preps and lunchtime to offer academic and social support. She also communicates consistently with her students' families. 


Ms. Dunbar truly shows that she cares about her students by providing extra support and tools to help them succeed. She holds them to high standards and communicates her expectations with them. Because of these clear expectations set by Ms. Dunbar,  the students know what is required of them and they work hard to exceed their goals. “She knows her content well and makes the necessary adjustments to meet students' needs.  She is a great asset to the GCA team,” said Shawn Schwartz, instructional coach at GCA.

15. March 2022 - Jan Revill - ACPA.jpg

Jan Revill

Grades 9-12 Art,

Achieve Career Preparatory Academy

Ms. Jan Revill has worked extremely hard to make the pandemic one that students at Achieve Career Preparatory Academy (ACPA) can work through via artistic expression. Her ability to have students turn off the screens and work on their mental health by creating masterpieces has benefited the school in numerous ways. She has even led a mental health professional development through art therapy with the staff.


Ms. Revill is patient and kind. She never sees a student that can not be helped. She has even started an art café during lunch so that students can take a pause and create. Her students were featured at Owens Community College and will be featured at The Toledo Museum in the Spring. “Her class is a creative chaos that always results in pieces with meaning that we showcase throughout the school,” said Julieta Flowers, school leader at ACPA.

17. April 2022 - Carol Balfour - GCA.JPG

Carol Balfour

Grades K-5 Special Education,

George Crockett Academy

Ms. Carol Balfour is a team player who has cared deeply for all of the students at George Crockett Academy (GCA) for over twenty years. She advocates for students to receive all of the help that they deserve and need. She pushes into classrooms, does pull-outs, meets with teachers to align her plans and to provide support for them and conducts the necessary parent meetings and paperwork.


Ms. Balfour truly enjoys working with children and helping them succeed. She is a mentor and teammate who works hard for all of the students and staff at GCA. Throughout the pandemic, she ensured that her students received the necessary assistance to persevere and reach their goals. “Ms. Balfour is always willing to assist others and takes on additional responsibilities as needed. She is a terrific part of our GCA team,” said DeLon Wills, instructional coach at GCA.


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

16. April 2022 - Cindy Chaney - WEA.jpg

Cindy Chaney

Grade 3 English Language Arts & Science,

Wildwood Environmental Academy

Ms. Cindy Chaney has been a dedicated third-grade teacher at Wildwood Environmental Academy (WEA) for seven years. You can always count on her to meet deadlines, create and deliver amazing lessons and accomplish all of her assigned duties. When a new curriculum was implemented, she accessed available resources, challenged herself, and most importantly, she refused to allow a learning curve or the effects of the pandemic to compromise the rigor and success seen in her classroom.


Ms. Chaney has always taken the time to assist and guide newer staff members and sometimes even carry the load while someone else finds their feet. “The unique set of obstacles that all educators have faced this year have forced expectations to be adjusted, pacing to be more difficult, classroom management to be redefined, and teachers and students to be flexible. Ms. Chaney has been a leader throughout,” said Susan Brimmer, assistant school leader at WEA.


Thank you for leading the way for staff and students, Ms. Chaney!

18. April 2022 - Jasmine Brewington - NA.jpg

Jasmine Brewington

Grade 3 Teacher,

Northridge Academy

Ms. Jasmine Brewington joined Northridge Academy (NA) as a dance teacher but quickly volunteered to take on new responsibilities. She is now a third-grade teacher and a vital member of the PBIS, MICIP and M-Step preparedness teams and she also facilitates the after-school dance program at NA. She continuously strives to learn and is working towards seeking her Doctorate of Educational Leadership.


“Even with Ms. Brewington’s workload in our building, she continues to be a valuable asset to NA's community. She maintains an open line of communication with the parents of her students which fosters a relationship built on trust between the parent, student and teacher. She does not shy away from any challenge,” said Latricia Brown, school leader at NA.


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

19. April 2022 - Wendy Nelson - MCWA.jpg

Wendy Nelson

Grades K-8 Reading Interventionalist,

Mildred C. Wells Academy

Ms. Wendy Nelson is a passionate reading interventionist whose goal at Mildred C. Wells Academy (MCWA) is to help students succeed in literacy. She demonstrates flexibility and is resourceful for our students and staff. You will often find Ms. Nelson working with a group of students through creative lessons that she designs while incorporating the Phonics First program. She encourages MCWA students to love reading, helps them set goals and celebrates with them when they meet and exceed their goals.   


Ms. Nelson is very enthusiastic about students soaring in literacy and she leads Literacy Night and the book fair every year. She gravitates toward professional development opportunities and uses her training to help students improve specific reading skills. She works extensively with students to help them grow into better readers. “Thank you Ms. Nelson for showing that you care about our students! We appreciate everything that you do for our students and our school!” said Latrisha Corona, school leader at MCWA.


Thank you for sharing your love of reading with your students, Ms. Nelson!

20. April 2022 - Ronald Booth - DPSA.jpg

Ronald Booth

Detroit Public Saftey Academy

Mr. Ronald Booth is a true advocate for all of the students at Detroit Public Safety Academy (DPSA). He recently transitioned from teaching foreign language classes to a more expansive role at the school. He is always one of the first people to arrive at the building and the last to leave. Mr. Booth has become a favorite presence at DPSA for both students and staff due to his willingness to do whatever is necessary to keep things running smoothly. 


Mr. Booth is always willing to lend a hand and puts others' needs before his own. “His passion and genuine concern is unmatched and has helped him build great relationships with students and parents,” said Michael Jackson, school leader at DPSA. Mr. Booth’s impact doesn’t end when the bell rings, he also mentors students after school and makes it a point to continue supporting students upon graduation.


Thank you for being a mentor to your students, Mr. Booth!

22. May 2022 - Shirley Murray - CCALE.PNG

Shirley Murray

Grade 2 Teacher,

Cesar Chavez Academy Lower Elementary

Ms. Shirley Murray has been a dedicated and loyal teacher at Cesar Chavez Academy Lower Elementary (CCALE) for thirteen years. She has supported the school in a variety of ways throughout the years to help them evolve and uphold the school mission. Ms. Murray is passionate and puts everything into her profession, she doesn’t skip a beat and maximizes the time she has with her students. 


Through her structured day and innovative lesson planning, Ms. Murray works hard to help her students become independent learners and stay actively engaged all while having fun. She has played a vital role on her team to help with pacing, assessments, resources and mentoring new staff. “She is willing to lend a hand whenever it is needed. We value all her efforts, support and commitment to our students throughout the years,” said Kristen Liss, instructional coach at CCALE.


Thank you for the continued support of your students and your school, Ms. Murray

21. May 2022 - Darrell Bowman - MCWA.jpg

Darrell Bowman

Grade 5 Teacher,

Mildred C. Wells Academy

Mr. Darrell Bowman has been a valued staff member at Mildred C. Wells Academy (MCWA) for nearly ten years. During this time, he has had the opportunity to serve in many different roles at the school. Whether he’s in the classroom, riding the bus, delivering meals to our students or lending a hand where the need exists, he always does it willingly and with a smile.


Mr. Bowman’s classroom is centered around motivation and positivity. He uses these characteristics as the foundation for every expectation and the high standards that he sets for his students. The students in his class model this work ethic by working hard together to help each other succeed in their goals. He integrates positive behavior reinforcement within the content that he teaches. “Mr. Bowman takes advantage of every opportunity that is presented to him that will help him lead his students and MCWA to success,” said Latrisha Corona, school leader at MCWA.


Thank you, Mr. Bowman, for always being a team player!

23. May 2022 -  Adranne Blaze - WEA.JPG

Adranne Blaze

Grades 6-8 Social Studies,

Wildwood Environmental Academy

Ms. Adranne Blaze engages her students at Wildwood Environmental Academy (WEA) with humor and compassion in an effort to make learning fun. She is a mentor to her students and is a valued member of the middle school team. Outside of her role in the classroom, she also participates in various school-wide initiatives and activities such as Girls on the Run and the school improvement team. 


Additionally, Ms. Blaze has worked with another staff member to lead their colleagues in a book study. She has helped to design activities, create presentations and provide demonstrations of the lessons learned throughout this study. She has demonstrated commitment to applying the lessons, challenging herself, and supporting the staff in creating a culture that inspires greatness. “Ms. Blaze is impacting the lives of every student we serve because she is spearheading a transformation of our school’s culture,” said Susan Brimmer, assistant school leader at WEA.


Thank you for your leadership, Ms. Blaze!

24. May 2022 - Jessica MacLeod CCAM.jpeg

Jessica MacLeod

Grades 6-8 Special Education,

Cesar Chavez Academy Middle

Ms. Jessica MacLeod is the definition of leadership and support at Cesar Chavez Academy Middle (CCAM). She supports her special education students in a dynamic way by thinking outside of the box to provide new ways to help her students while simultaneously supporting the general education teachers. Serving as the special education department lead, Ms. MacLeod routinely provides her expertise, time and care to anyone in need. She serves as a building steward, supports her colleagues and provides her time to cultivate a strong community within CCAM.


Ms. MacLeod supports the most at-risk students with compassion and concern while maintaining inclusivity for all those involved. “She upholds and lives out our belief that all students are capable of academic excellence and that all students will succeed. Beyond this, she puts in the hard work to make this vision a reality each and every day,” said Brittiany Romero, assistant school leader at CCAM.


Thank you for leading with compassion, Ms. MacLeod!

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