Celebration of Excellence Award Winners

2005-06


Awards Received on October 26, 2005


Jean Cochran - Pittsfield Elementary - Teacher Assistant
Nominated by the staff at Pittsfield for Outstanding Customer Service

On behalf of the staff at Pittsfield Elementary School, we would like to nominate Mrs. Jean Cochran for the Celebration of Excellence award in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.  Mrs. Jean Cochran is a Teacher/Classroom Assistant Extraordinaire and the heart and soul of Pittsfield School. Her thoughtfulness towards others and dedication to the school and community are unprecedented. Whether she is up on a step stool enhancing Pittsfield’s entryway with seasonal decorations or shepherding the little ones to the right bus at the end of the day, her noticeable calm demeanor and smile are constant.  In the classroom, she spots and moves effortlessly toward the student that needs assistance.  She encourages children, stimulates their thinking and gives them confidence.  Many of us have been the recipient of Jean’s organizational skills; paperwork doesn’t phase her in the least.

Mrs. Cochran also has amazing intuition.  As someone at school remarked, "She knows what you need before you know you need it (and gets it taken care of)!"  We all know that her workday extends well beyond what is expected.  Many classrooms have benefited from her yard sale finds or after school trips to the store.  She has a special touch for whatever she does and is extremely modest.  Mrs. Cochran brings a unique sense of history to the school. She has lived her entire life in the community.  Both she and her adult children attended Pittsfield. She treasures that history, and we are all lucky to have her share it with us.

Finally, Mrs. Cochran is an ambassador of good will.  Acts of kindness flow from her daily.  The cakes she brings to school (“because I felt like baking this morning”) are awesome; the little touches she adds to an assembly, bulletin board, or class list are distinct and from the heart.
Her thoughtfulness towards others, dedication to the school and ability to work with children combine to make her one of a kind.   As another staff member said, “I don’t know what this school would be like if she weren’t here.”  Jean is Pittsfield.  Mrs. Cochran truly represents excellence in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Donna Ramsey - Bach Elementary School - Teacher
Nominated by Renee L. Bayer for Outstanding Customer Service

Donnna Ramsey is an exceptional teacher.  Her excellence is motivated from a sincere desire to ensure that quality education is delivered.  Her disciplined approach offers students the opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them, and continue to try until the student has succeeded in learning.  Her style is neither flashy, nor charismatic, and could easily be missed.  As a parent, it would have been easy for me to credit my child's success with her own intelligence, or with my husband and my encouragement of our child's work.  However, without Donna Ramsey's management of my child's education, our daughter would never have been able to make the kinds of improvements that she made with out the disciplined oversight and the carefully planned curriculum of her wonderful teacher.

Thank you, Donna Ramsey.  You are a gifted teacher, and my family has been inspired by your desire for quality education.  We are so pleased to recommend you for a Customer Service award.  We are very satisfied customers!


Awards Received on November 16, 2005


Darlene Parker - Abbot Elementary - Teacher Assistant
Nominated by Frank & Kris Anderson, parents,  for Outstanding Customer Service

Darlene Parker is consistent with my son.  She was a TA in my son’s summer program and was wonderful.  He was comfortable because she was there to help him.  She truly loves the kids and they love her too.

Linda Joseph - Eberwhite Elementary  - Teacher
Nominated by Marci Harris, parent, for Outstanding Customer Service

This summer I was contacted by Eberwhite informing me that Linda Joseph would be my son's EDO kindergarten teacher.  This was new information from what we were told the previous spring.  I have been so impressed with Linda Joseph and the extra attention she gives to parents and students.  First, she met with all of us in the summer so she would have a chance to meet us.  Second, she contacted each family and visited our homes to meet our children and to get to know something about her future students.  I was stunned!  In my 15 years in education, I have never known a teacher to go that extra mile - to take time out of her summer vacation to visit 20 homes.  Linda has made my son's transition to elementary school a very easy one.  It is evident to all of us who have a child in Linda's class that her first concern is for the well-being of our kids.  She is a gift to Eberwhite and the Ann Arbor Public Schools.  I am happy that my son's first experience with the Ann Arbor Public Schools is with Linda Joseph.


Awards Received on November 30, 2005


Sandra Aquino - Tappan Middle School - Teacher
Nominated by Karen Arnold and BJ Wallingford for Outstanding Customer Service

We would like to nominate Sandy Aquino, Life Science teacher at Tappan Middle School.  Not only do we admire her personally, she is a model teacher for all staff and students.  In her class, there is truly  “no child left behind”.   We are special education teachers who have shared students with her for many years.  She genuinely cares about each student, is invested in their success, meets the needs of each individual, and will go above and beyond in giving her time and assistance.  Beyond helping students, she is always willing to drop what she’s doing to help staff, student teachers or anyone else.

No one is more deserving of being honored for being excellent!


Cathy Stone - Bach Elementary  - Teacher
Nominated by  Heidi Busch Binetti, parent, for Innovation

Cathy's innovative approach in teaching reading skills to my son has made an immense difference in his attempt to become a good reader. I have noticed that her support allowed my son to achieve a goal that otherwise would have been a much more challenging one had he been left without such support.


Awards Received on January 11, 2006


Michelle Hart - Clague Middle School - Technical Specialist
Nominated by Michelle Machiele,  PTSO President, for Outstanding Customer Service

Last spring the Clague PTSO began looking for a new way to produce the Student Directory: because our directory was distributed well into the school year, we missed opportunities for connecting our school families with each other and with the Clague staff.   AAPS Communications Director Liz Margolis collaborated with IT Specialist Ali Vandoren to produce a template for directories utilizing SASI data.  For Clague Middle School, Technical Specialist Michelle Hart was our key to successfully utilizing the district template to produce the directory in a timely fashion.

With a keen eye to include as many new students as possible but produce the directory in a timely fashion, Michelle brainstormed with Assistant Principal Judy Hayes and the PTSO, creating data to determine when to optimally produce the directory.  At the start of the school year (with a million other jobs to do at once), Michelle kept after the directory project by working with Clague secretaries, IT Specialist Elijah Newton, Principal Hecker, and PTSO Directory Coordinator Sue Keller.  The Student Directory information was imported directly from SASI data, saving time and many parent volunteer hours reproducing data.  There were times of frustration, but Michelle collaborated with staff and parents to quickly overcome hurdles.  By the first interim grade report, the beautiful and functional communications tool was delivered to every student's home.  Additionally, the Clague staff and parents have the knowledge to deliver the project in the same timely fashion next year.

 Michelle Hart's computer expertise and 'extra mile' attitude were integral to the Student Directory project's success this year, and for years to come.

Carolyn Ellingson - Burns Park Elementary  - Teacher
Nominated by  Don Yealts, parent, for Outstanding Customer Service

Carolyn Ellingson is an incredible first grade teacher.  She is masterful at diagnosing her students' needs both academically and emotionally and then very effectively meets those needs.   Caroline has a soft unassuming nature yet she is quite powerful.  She is a consummate professional who is loved and respected by her students and parents.

Awards Received on January 25, 2006


Humberto Valencia - Slauson Middle School - Custodian
Nominated by Carol Mohrlock, co-worker, for Outstanding Customer Service

"Ahora  la escuela de Slauson es muy bonita"
This is a result of our new head custodian, Humberto Valencia.

Humberto is always aware of the building's condition. He takes the initiative to seek out areas in need of improvement and gets the job done.  Not only is the task accomplished but it is done efficiently.  Humberto takes pride in his work.  He approaches every task with a positive attitude.  As a result, this pride is reflected throughout the halls of Slauson.  He is a team player, always visible and eager to assist in making Slauson sparkle.


Susan Ulrey - Northside Elementary - Teacher
Nominated by Susan Bruner, parent, for Outstanding Customer Service

Our daughter Cara has just turned 6 yrs. old in October.  In her young life she rarely had a sitter, experienced one year of 2 mornings a week of  preschool, and attended morning Kindergarten last year.  I was worried that the sudden ALL day in first grade with SIX whole hours away from mom, and learning difficult concepts in math, science and reading would  be a horrific, stressful transition for her.  BUT...luckily Cara has a wonderful teacher that cares for her first graders very much!!  Mrs.Sue Ulrey calls herself "the drill sergeant"; she says she runs a tight ship like her dad who was in the Navy.  I have never seen so many 5 and 6 yr. olds who show such respect and care for their teacher!! Sue Ulrey MUST be a beloved captain.  They admire her and are usually on their best behavior,at least when I am there.  She uses the 1-2-3 level of behavior guidelines giving them specific expectations, instilling in them that THEY are in control and are responsible for their actions.  As a result of these guidelines the children exhibit excellent self-control and organization. Her students are respectful, dedicated and inspired to learn!!

I have witnessed Sue Ulrey's unique, exceptional skills of making the difficult concepts of math,science,reading and writing understandable for all these young learners!!  She combines the use of visual props, familiar stories, analogies, step-by-step examples and clues.  All these teaching techniques make it easier for their young minds to grasp and retain the information.
 
MY daughter says “Mrs. Ulrey is the BEST teacher; she makes learning hard things FUN!!  I want to stay at school 14 hours a day, MOM!!SCHOOL IS FUN, I LOVE SCHOOL!!"
 
Sue Ulrey has shown me, a veteran teacher, that theories CAN be applied to practice with GREAT success. She is exceptional in involving parents and keeping us updated with our children's progress with her genuine approach and professional demeanor.  WE parents are motivated to be involve in our children's education so that they will be successful learners.  But most importantly, Sue makes OUR daughter feels successful and competent in meeting all the challenges of first grade.  Cara is CONFIDENT and seems so ready to be a long-term learner.  She is inspired to learn and LOVES being in school and I have Mrs. Sue Ulrey to thank for that!!
 

Chuck Hatt & Michele Madden - Curriculum Coordinators
Nominated by Elementary Principals for Innovation

Chuck and Michele consistently demonstrate their dedication to student achievement by providing professional development, consultation to principals and teachers, and alignment of curriculum while always keeping ever changing State mandates and local benchmarks in mind.  Their never ending dedication to researching best practice ultimately benefits every elementary student.  They are invaluable resources and deserve to be recognized as such



Awards Received on February 8, 2006


Olu Osuntuyi - Clague Middle School/Transportation Department - Bus Driver
Nominated by Suzanne Tainter for Outstanding Customer Service

On the first day of school this year, my kids and their friends literally jumped for joy when they caught sight of their bus driver for this year. For the veteran riders of bus #30 there was some anxiety over whether Olu would be back. Indeed he was and they were delighted. This is a driver who established rapport with his students. With his "bus captains", trivia contests, and other innovations, he makes the bus ride a great way to start and end the day.  I have heard from other parents about his ability to connect with their children as well. I hope that the Celebration of Excellence will recognize the fine work he is doing for our children.


Janet Popper - Pittsfield Elementary - Teacher
Nominated by Debbie Harris for Innovation

Janet Popper instructed her 4th grade classroom to write poetry - "My Autumn Eyes Behold" - using not only their dictionary skills, but amazing Thesaurus skills.  These poems are far beyond 4th grade level of writing and understanding.  The children also did artwork to accompany their own poems.  Not only should she be commended on teaching poetry so well, but in engaging these 4th graders in the assignment and truly "teaching" and the result is the most amazing collection of poems.  Please consider Mrs. Popper for this award - and please if you can stop by her classroom and read the collection of poems - they will inspire you and remind you the innocence and beauty of a 4th grader's heart and happiness in simple things such as "autumn."  Janet Popper is truly "teaching" these children to think, to understand and to learn.


Jacquelyn Stouppe - Forsythe Middle School - Counselor
Nominated by Pat Carson for Innovation

I am nominated my co-worker because of the innovative approach she used during our transition workshop presentations to students. We have done this presentation for several years. Jacquelyn added some features that made it more appealing to students such as including students in the Powerpoint, writing a skit for students to perform, and making it a process that students can use throughout their lives.
We at Forsythe appreciate Jacquelyn's positive nature and friendly smile. She has been an excellent mentor to me and helped me learn more about family dynamics.
She shows a genuine interest in people.


Reema Jarjoura - King Elementary - Teacher
Nominated by Rebecca Hankin for Outstanding Customer Service

Mrs. Reema Jarjoura, a second grade teacher at King Elementary School, is an astounding teacher. She has taught all three of my children over the past seven years.  My third child is on the autistic spectrum.  Mrs. Jarjoura actually sought my child out as a prospective student and welcomed the challenge of including a student with autism in the regular classroom.  Under Mrs. Jarjoura's instruction, my son completed the second grade curriculum without modifications and without a classroom aide.  This is remarkable.  How did this happen?

I have assisted and observed Mrs. Jarjoura in her classroom regularly, and these are the qualities that made her a successful teacher for all my children, whether autistic or "typical".

She is analytical:  she makes insightful observations and draws thoughtful conclusions.
She is energetic.
She is flexible:  she is unafraid of changing an approach that isn't working.
She is undefeatable:  she wants all kids to achieve and she does not give up.
She is organized:  she gives feedback regularly--daily when appropriate--so that students can progress.  Day after day, she was able to make and record the observations that were central to my son's behavioral program so that we could shape his behavior and help him progress.
She is a mentor:  she guides student teachers in such a way that the quality of instruction, even for my special needs child, is maintained.
She is open-minded:  she is willing to implement others' recommendations but she also makes her own pertinent suggestions.
She is a staunch advocate for her students.  She has high standards for herself and her students.  She is unrelenting in finding effective ways to teach!
Finally, she is loving.  She forges warm relationships with her students (do not believe for a moment that children with autism are not affectionate and loving) and the feelings are reciprocated.  Very often I observed former students seeking her out to say hello or leave a "goodie" on her desk.

It is hard to convey what an impact Mrs. Jarjoura has made in the life of my son and our family.  Mrs. Jarjoura is utterly dedicated.  She has merged her training, her experience, and her humanity to become a master teacher.  She really deserves this recognition.


Awards Received on February 22, 2006


Ken Monash - Dicken Elementary School - Teacher
Nominated by Becky Detering and JoAnn Tangorra, parents, for Outstanding Customer Service

Comments from Becky Detering:
Ken Monash is truly a one-of-a-kind teacher.  He has a special way of making every student feel valued.  He believes in positive reinforcement and never misses an opportunity to compliment a student on a job well done (whether it is academic or social behavior).  Ken has a talent for being able to bring his students together so that a bond is created by the end of the school year.  My daughter, Jessica was in Mr. Monash’s class two years ago and my daughter Kelsey is his student this year; and their experiences mirror each other in many ways.  Kelsey comes home every day happy and excited about school, as did Jessica.  Kelsey strives to do the best that she possibly can, whether it’s math homework, book reports, Book-it, science, one of the numerous projects throughout the year, or whatever else it might be.  She knows that Mr. Monash will be the first to commend her accomplishment.

Ken Monash stands out.  Past students come back to see him year after year.  Their faces light up at the mention of his name.  Personally speaking, my husband and I will be forever grateful to Ken for making one year so unforgettably special for our girls.  I sometimes joke with them saying “I wish we could have Mr. Monash every year!”

Comments from JoAnn Tangorra:
Ken Monash is outstanding in his efforts to keep parents involved and informed. He communicates with parents via e-mail, letters, phone calls, etc.--always encouraging us to contact him no matter what the concerns, time of day (even weekends are okay!)--no issue is too small when it comes to our children.  I have never met a teacher quite like him. He makes every student--and every parent--feel special, welcome, and important. He's absolutely one of a kind.


Karen Arnold - Tappan Middle School - Teacher
Nominated by Sue Giles, parent, for Outstanding Customer Service

Being the parent of a child that has daily issues of one form or another it is so important to us that the teacher communicates with us how our child’s day at school is.  Whether he has had a good day where we can praise him or a bad day where we have to follow through with consequence,s Karen is so supportive and always communicates with us at a level that is so beneficial to our child and to us.  Evan’s middle school years have certainly been a positive experience because of Karen’s structure, caring and communication.


Robbie Stapleton - Community High School - Teacher
Nominated by Mary Jo Desprez, parent, for Innovation

Robbie Stapleton had introduced an innovative way to begin important conversations at Community High School. Robbie has always been an excellent teacher and well respected by students, staff and parents, but in the past year she saw a need to open up important dialogues with students about issues that are impacting their potential to succeed. Though her fledging theatre troupe, "Tuned In" she has introduced a new tool that uses theatre to catalyze dialogue about relevant health, social and diversity issues. This approach has been used in the college campus environment, and Robbie is a pioneer in the Ann Arbor Public Schools system to bring this tool to high school students. It is her energy and her passion for students that drives her to look for innovative ways to engage students. I think she is highly deserving of this award in recognition of her efforts and to inspire others to continue to think outside the box to engage students.


Jennifer Hein - Huron High School - Principal
Nominated by Casey Davis, parent, for Outstanding Customer Service

Last year my step son came to Huron High as a second year freshman. Ms. Hein was willing to meet with us before school began and she continued to meet with us throughout the year. She kept in contact with us and was a HUGE part of the success of our son. She treats every student as if they were the only student she had. Ms. Hein knows every student's name and she remembers details that count. She helps frightened freshman find a home at Huron. Last week she saw that my step son was having difficulty and as always she stepped up to the plate once again. Ms. Hein went out of her way to insure my son was taken care of. She could have gone home but she stayed after school to care for our son. Ann Arbor is a better place for our children because of people like Jennifer Hein. Thank you for finding such a gem.


Awards Received on March 8, 2006


Mae Adams - Huron High School - Counselor
Nominated by the Moyer Family and Jenny Wu for Outstanding Customer Service

Comments from Gayle, Bruce and Alex Moyer:
From the moment we found out at the end of 8th grade that Mrs. Adams was to be Alex's counselor she has been helpful and truly guiding.  She has made it her job to understand Alex's strengths and weaknesses and helped him arrange his schedule and support him through all phases of high school.  Alex will be graduating this year and has asked if he could take Mrs. Adams with him to college.

Comments from Jenny Wu:
Ms. Adams always makes me feel that I am welcomed to drop in for questions or concerns of my son. No matter if the business is as big as a college application or as small as a lunch, she is willing to listen, to give advice, to search information, or even go to the classroom to get the student. She is doing the work that is  or is not in her job description.


Kelly Bert - Forsythe Middle School - Teacher
Nominated by Hans-Peter Ediger, co-worker for Innovation

She has established an excellent program and mentorship able and handicapped students.  To describe it with words is difficult. She involves our physically handicapped students in activities utilizing  healthy students as peer mentors.
For some of the POHI, students it is a challenge just to roll a ball.
This is really something that should be in the news.
Our "able" students are helping and encouraging the challenged students. The overall harmony is unbelievable.


Kim Tehranipour - Pittsfield Elementary School - Noon Hour Supervisor
Nominated by Marla Johnson, co-worker, for Outstanding Customer Service

Kim is a wonderful noon hour supervisor. She has been working at Pittsfield since her children attended there and her children are now in high school.  Her main responsibility is to supervise the kindergartners at lunch.  She is very patient and good with the children. She encourages them to try for themselves and to learn a wide range of skills from table manners, opening containers, and putting on winter gear.  She is able to communicate effectively to them without ever raising her voice. The children all respond to her with positive results.
Kim is also a wonderful inspiration to her co-workers.  She is helpful in difficult situations, encouraging to her team members and willing to help with any issue.  Kim recently provided a pick-me-up surprise for the whole team. She had balloons, coffee and muffins waiting when the team arrived for work.  I feel Kim goes the extra mile to help the students feel safe and comfortable and to encourage her team members. For these reasons I am nominating her for this award.


Hyeuo Park, Bonita Boyce & Donald Cody - Logan Elementary School - Teachers
Nominated by the Ybarra Family for Outstanding Customer Service

It can be difficult to truly function in a team environment, but Logan's 5th grade teachers, Mr. Park, Mrs. Boyce, and Mr. Cody, model the essence of teamwork. They are committed to the children, create an inclusive, collegial culture among the classes, and teach the children that shared leadership contributes to a rich learning experience for all. They were a positive force in our lives during the 5th grade year and their impact/influence continues to be evident as our child matures.
I attribute my daughter's successful transition to middle school to the team teaching approach embraced by these three.  My daughter is shy and tends to disappear in a classroom but all last year, she was challenged to have a "voice"--to ask questions, to share opinions, and to risk learning "out loud". She didn't always have the courage to raise her hand but her teachers, Mr. Park in particular, continued to challenge her and draw her out.

In addition to the 5th grade curriculum being appropriately challenging and engaging, the team managed to create a spirit among all of their students that fostered a sense of community among the kids--at a pivotal time in their lives, too. Their openness to working as a team was felt not only by the kids, but by parents, as well.

Mr. Park was our child's "home" teacher and I will be forever grateful to him and to Mrs. Boyce and Mr. Cody, for nurturing the self esteem and confidence that our middle school student readily displays today!
Thank you.

Awards Received on March 22, 2006

Richard Bednarz - Huron High School - Teacher
Nominated by Lorri Vander Roest for Outstanding Customer Service

Mr. Bednarz has consistently brought excellence in teaching to his classrooms.  He comes to work prepared to teach and finds innovative ways to make Geometry intriguing and understandable.  He is willing to do whatever it takes (after-school help, meeting over lunch, calls to parents, etc.) to help students succeed.  He is always present at band concerts and sporting events to support his students in their extra-curricular activities.  He is an example of what all teachers should strive to be.


Susan Haines - Haisley Elementary School - Teacher
Nominated by Paula and Scott Staebler, parents, for Outstanding Customer Service

Susan Haines is by far one of the most unbelievably awesome educators among us. Her never-ending concern and commitment to the children she teaches is out of this world. During the 2004-2005 school year she, with other teachers input, implemented the lunch time Math Club for struggling fourth grade students, during this time she pre-taught the upcoming lesson to students who were having difficulty (my daughter). She was always open, helpful and understanding of the children. Her dedication was much appreciated by my husband and myself. After recognizing the struggles my daughter, as well as three other young ladies, were experiencing she took one step further and implemented a Summer Math Club on T/TR mornings throughout the summer, to pre-teach the first 3 units of the 5th grade everyday math program. This program has really made a difference in the self-esteem of the children who attended, especially my daughter, and given them the confidence they need to begin the school year. I feel that by going above and beyond as Susan Haines does daily- deserves recognition.


Pat Menzies - Huron High School - Office Professional
Nominated by Audrey Jackson, parent, for Outstanding Customer Service

Pat Menzies is an extraordinary person in a challenging and large high school student body.  She is one of the first faces to greet you in the early morning hours at the front desk of Huron High School every week.  She has outstanding customer service skills.

I have seen her convey a calmness that would defy reality in relaying announcements on situations from wicked snowstorms or tornadoes to festive, but very, very busy back-to-school picnics for incoming Huron freshmen classes.  I have personally savored her tasty burgers and hot dogs that sizzle with a flavor technique I could only wish she would reveal!

Ms. Menzies has faithfully delivered Huron High School announcements daily for the benefit of students, staff, and parents for years. She is always friendly, professional, and wise in her communications with parents, especially while distributing schedules during parent-conference nights.  Ms. Menzies is very modest and would never congratulate herself for "doing her job." Nonetheless, in a high school of over 2300 students, she has the unique experience of having greeted, called, or assisted nearly every student, faculty, and parent in the Huron High School family--for years. She has frequently gone beyond the call of duty for many years at Huron to accommodate a parent concern or to assist faculty.  I am certain that many past and current students and staff have had a better high school experience because of Ms. Menzies. Many Huron parents would echo this sentiment.

I am nominating Ms. Menzies because she is kind, efficient, loyal to Huron, and it impresses me that she also likes sports!  Every school should have a Pat Menzies on board.  She makes Huron High School a very welcoming place.


Michael Johnson - Thurston Elementary School - Teacher
Nominated by The families of DiRosa, Lee, Melzer, Kumar, Evoy, Chen, Kieme, Tabesh, and Smith for Outstanding Customer Service and Innovation

Comments from Cindy DiRosa:
I am a mother of two children that collectively have had 25+ teachers touch their lives.  I believe that all educators that we are exposed to DO touch our lives in one respect or another.  Whether they leave a positive impression that you can carry throughout your life is what differentiates one from another.  That being said, I will say with very strong conviction, that Mr. Johnson has not only touched my daughter’s life but he has touched our families’ lives.

I understand that this is Mr. Johnson’s first year of teaching and suspect that is a hindrance in being awarded the celebration of excellence; however, that minor detail does not take away the fact that he has left that lasting, positive impression with us that is so difficult to find.  I’d like to tell you why he has impacted our lives and should be considered for this award:

1. He promotes balance.  Teaching the children and those around them, that you can respect others and have fun but still get the work done.  As a manager in the Human Resource industry, I can tell you that there are several adults that do not understand how to balance.  I like seeing my child in an environment that promotes that.
2. Respect is important to him.  My daughter told me early on that Mr. Johnson expects everyone to respect him and each other; ”Yeah” is not acceptable because the answer truly is “yes”, as an example.
3. He thinks outside the box.  Mr. Johnson fully understands that every child is different and takes the time to develop them individually.  For instance, he understood very quickly that my daughter is easily distracted when reading in an active environment and is working with me to help her get to the next level. Even though she has exceeded her grade level in reading, he sees the potential she has if put in the appropriate setting.
4. He truly cares.  He has become so involved with the children’s lives that he offers tutoring on Saturdays and also attends outside functions that the kids are involved in (i.e. he attended one of my daughter's soccer games with his family).
5. He is a team player.  When he organizes social events, he is sure to include all of the other teachers and their students.

In closing, I will give you one more example of the positive experience my daughter has had this year in Mr. Johnson’s class.  While 90%+ of the students out there may have been ecstatic about the first snow day, my daughter was incredibly disappointed because she wanted to go to school.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m being honest, I would say I never had that feeling.

Please strongly consider this recommendation.  He is very deserving of this award.  I think that is the least we can do to show how important someone like Michael Johnson is to our future workforce.

Comments from Inhan Lee:
Mr. Johnson used many creative methods to be the best friends and naturally became one of the most trusted persons among the students. A few examples are: He invited all his students to his birthday party which was held in a way among friends; He organized with other teachers a skating party for all 5th graders with their families; He calls and treats all the students as superstars.

Comments from Nancy Melzer:
Mr. Johnson is extremely innovative.  A few examples:
He held HIS birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's and invited the class, Principal, other staff.  It was near the beginning of the year and helped really cement the class "spirit" and camaraderie. The kids pooled their tickets to buy a disco ball for the class room.
Mr. Johnson calls the class "superstars" - which really improves their self-confidence.
Mr. Johnson is strict and no-nonsense and yet imparts to each kid that he truly cares about them.  He instills self respect and responsibility with his teaching style and high expectations for each child.
My child has shown tremendous personal growth and learning over the first half of the school year.

Comments from Kirshan Kumar:
He has been an excellent educator who knows how to mix fun with learning where kids participation is thrilling. E.g are language with social science.

Comments from Cindy & Dave Evoy:
I am very pleased to nominate Mr. Johnson for this award.  My daughter Hayley is in Mr. Johnson's 5th grade class at Thurston.  Mr. Johnson very early on in the school year created a learning environment that challenged students and empowered them to be the best individuals they can be.  He has extremely high academic expectations and behavioral standards.  He is in touch with the class culture and works hard to make every child feel valued.  He maintains outstanding parent communication through e-mail and student planners.  Mr. Johnson teaches more then the 3R's.  He educates the students on the world around them and encourages them to think of others.  He organized a class community service project to benefit foster care children in our community.  He teaches the students about current events and promotes thought provoking conversations.  Mr. Johnson is an enthusiastic staff member at Thurston who  assisted in organizing the Halloween Parade, served as the "Turkey" at the annual Turkey Trot, and attended the Fundraising Auction on his personal time to name a few.  My daughter thinks he is awesome and especially appreciated the birthday party Mr. Johnson invited the class to at Chuck E Cheese and the skating party held for the students at a nearby roller rink. Mr. Johnson sets an amazing example for his students on responsibility, follow-through, commitment and excellence.  He calls his students "superstars" and he himself is the #1 superstar.  He is very deserving of this award and we feel very fortunate that our daughter has the opportunity to learn from this very gifted teacher.

Comments from Yi-Hsiu Chen:
 My kid is more focused and feels energetic with the constant encouragement from Mr. Jonhson to do her best at school everyday. I can't believe he is a first year teacher! All the parents in the class I talked to have great praises for him.

Comments from the Felicia Kieme:
 My son although a nice boy, has always had difficulty finishing assignments, homework, and paying attention in school.  He has been tested for ADD, and found not to have it.  Mr. Johnson, with his well balanced style of achievement and rewards, has really motivated my son to do his best in 5th grade, and I am also personally thrilled with his progress considering he is going to middle school next year where these skills are important.  He also keeps the parents well informed of the kids progress and areas of improvement.  With these highly developed teaching skills Mr. Johnson  has an amazing future ahead of him in education.  I think he will influence, enhance, and innovate teaching not only for Thurston, and Ann Arbor, but on a more global level. Thank you!!

Comments from Minoo Tabesh:
Mr.Michael Johnson makes a safe,useful and happy learning environment for his students. My son,Pedram Tabesh, said he is happy to have Mr.Johnson as his 5th grade teacher. Today Pedram said "This year goes fast and smooth,because Mr. Johnson is my teacher."
Mr.Johnson's words to communicate with students and parents are just right. He is a great role model for his students. He always smiles and greets students and their parents.  He has excellent knowledge and ability for teaching.  We hope Mr. Johnson wins the AAPS Award for Excellence.  Thank you

Comments from Leslie Smith:
I was a bit concerned when my daughter was assigned to Mr. Johnson's class this year, especially when I discovered that this was his first, full-time teaching position. With the high student head count, not to mention the wide range of academic abilities of his students, I was unsure if this would be the best place for my daughter.

He was able to put most of my concerns to rest when I heard him speak during curriculum night. His enthusiasm was instantly apparent and contagious. That evening reinforced all of the positive feedback I had already received from my daughter and other parents.

We are just four months into the school year and I have watched Mr. Johnson inspire not only his own class, but the other students and teachers at Thurston as well. He has high expectations for his students and implements activities that involve other teachers and students at Thurston.  The most recent activity was a roller skating party that 4th and 5th graders, their parents, their teachers, and the principal took part in.  Something like this had never been done before.

His communication skills are excellent. Weekly newsletters, email access, and daily communication through the student planner all contribute to feeling in touch with what's going on at school.

Mr. Johnson calls his class "Superstars", and their parents "Superstar Parents".  There is even a Superstar Pledge that they say every day.  In his efforts to shape, instruct, and inspire the young minds in his class, he is also positively influencing the families, students and faculty of our Thurston community. This Superstar Parent is grateful that her daughter has had the opportunity to have a Superstar Teacher like Michael Johnson!


Awards Received on April 11, 2006

Scott Turner, Teacher-Scarlett Middle School
Nominated by Michael Huebner for Innovation

Mr. Turner has shown his great teaching qualities in many ways. One of these qualities  is taking an excellent approach to how he teaches. He provides an atmosphere that isn’t a strict setting, it’s relaxed but to the point. He is excited about Math and makes us feel excited about it.   The other reason why he should be nominated is because he takes time during school hours and after hours to help students who need help.

Rod Sorge, Teacher-Huron High School

Nominated by Dorit Adler & Paul Guttman for Outstanding Customer Service

Comments from Dorit Adler:
Mr. Sorge was the teacher for my daughter's Sports Medicine class during her first semester at Huron.  His knowledge, teaching style, and obvious love of the subject, students, and teaching, were a great inspiration for my daughter who has thought about pursuing a field in medicine.  She absolutely loved attending his classes, and even though the work was challenging (including learning many anatomic terms and muscle functions that I never learned until medical school), she did so with an eagerness that I found very impressive. 
I believe that Mr. Sorge encompasses the characteristics of the "special teacher," who inspires students and truly makes a difference not only in their class, but in their life.  I know that Michelle will always remember his class and that if he were ever able to offer the continuation of the Sports Medicine class, that she would be eager to take it.  In the mean time, she hopes to perhaps serve as a class assistant for him at some time in the future, or perhaps join him on the playing field sidelines. She is fortunate to have had such an outstanding teacher at the beginning of her high school experience.

I truly believe that Mr. Sorge is deserving of recognition for his outstanding teaching and inspiration of students and I hope that he is recognized with an Award of Excellence.

Comments from Paul Guttman:
Rod Sorge has been a mentor to my daughter for the past 3 and a half years since she took his Sports Medicine class in the winter of her freshman year. Rod takes a genuine interest in all of the kids that he teaches and makes all of them feel valued. He doesn't sugar coat anything. He expects a lot and pushes them to succeed, but more importantly he gives them the tools and skills they require to succeed.

Rod has been a teacher at Huron for over 30 years and has mentored many children. He is the one teacher that I know that my daughter will not only go back to visit when she comes home from school. More importantly in the years to come he is the one teacher that she will remember above all of the others who made her four years at Huron something special.


Mary Cullen Guttman, Parent Volunteer-Huron High School

Nominated by Michelle Riba for Outstanding Customer Service

Mary Cullen manages the email announcements for parents whose children are in the Class of 2007. She does a remarkable job--not just the information, but she tries so hard to provide the information in a thoughtful, respectful, timely, considerate, friendly manner. I so much appreciate getting mail from Mary Cullen. She answers back in a warm, friendly manner. She feels like a friend!! She makes being a parent a lot easier!!

In addition to the above, I always feel like I can ask her a question. Even though she doesn't work at Huron High school, she seems to be able to steer me in the right direction. I bet she does this for so many other parents. She has a great attitude, lots of energy, and is an amazing volunteer!



Awards Received on May 10, 2006

Diane Sastre, Teacher-Huron High School
Nominated by Peter Huebner for Outstanding Customer Service

Sra. Sastre deserves a recognition of excellence because of the way that she runs her class.  Her classroom is one that makes learning about Spanish language and culture a great experience.  She makes it a point to get to know her students.  Not just as a formality, but because she genuinely cares about each and every one of her students.  Many a time have I seen her at Huron events, cheering on her students.  As far as schoolwork goes, she is always willing to spend her lunch hour or time after school to take care of her students.  Due to this, I think that Sra. Sastre deserves an award of excellence.

Rick Hall, Teacher-Ann Arbor Open
Nominated by Phyllis Coleman for Innovation

Rick Hall is an extremely enthusiastic and innovative teacher.  He comes to class beaming with new ideas everyday and engages every student in learning.  He combines all avenues of teaching, including technology, in order to make learning an adventure for his students.  He will read it, say it, deomonstrate it, and even act it for his students and then, even more remarkably, he gives it to the students so they can touch, feel, hear, see, experience and interact with it and then discover more on their own through experimentation. Many teachers teach well; however, it takes a special teacher like Rick Hall to ensure that every single students loves to learn.

Bill Johnson, Counselor-Clague Middle School
Nominated by Noelle Conlin for Outstanding Customer Service

My daughter Lindsay transferred from private Catholic school to Clague this year to enter the sixth grade.  We were not sure what to expect from the public schools and decided last winter to explore our options before making the change.  My contact at Clague Middle School was Bill Johnson.  From the beginning he was warm, caring, understanding and willing to help with any and all of my concerns.  He went out of his way to set up teacher meetings and tours.  Mr. Johnson made sure that Lindsay was met at the door on orientation day and since that moment has continued to follow her progress at Clague.  When we had an incident with the bus system Mr.Johnson responded immediately and compassionately to correct the situation.  He recently began a lunch group for new students and those who need extra connection and guidance at school, all because my daughter asked for his help.  In short, Mr. Johnson allayed all of our fears about switching schools and has made it a very positive experience for our family. We are thrilled that he will be our counsellor for the next three years because we know that he will always have Lindsay's best interest in mind. The AAPS are lucky to have such a terrific ambassador working for them.

Briita Hall, Teacher-King Elementary School
Nominated by Joti Sethi for Outstanding Customer Service

Mrs. Hall is easily accessible any time of the day believe me I have interrupted her many times she always have a few minutes. She always has a smile and is such a good listener. I once told her that my child might have low self-concept. She went above and beyond and asked a volunteer to play chess with her. My daughter is so much more confident because of Mrs. Hall's efforts. We need such teachers who are genuinely concerned about their students, are highly motivated and have created a supportive and positive environment in their classroom where students are enthusiastic to learn. Thankyou Mrs. Hall.

Renae Borowski, Custodian-Thurston Elementary School
Nominated by Rebecca Kerwin & Jessica Anderson for Outstanding Customer Service

Renae is an amazing custodian.  She constantly goes above and beyond the call of duty.  For example, she cleansmy classrooms during the day so that teachers can use planning time, cleans the windows and doors, and even removes refuse left by construction.  Our school sparkes!  The hallways, bathrooms and public areas are always neat, even in muddy weather, because Renae is constantly working.  She shares the staff’s personal commitment ot Thurston.  Additionally, she does everything with a positive attitude, is always cheerful and friendly with staff and students and is only satisfied with the very best quality.  We are fortunate to have her as part of our school.



Awards Received on May 10, 2006

Catherine Noel, Teacher-Northside Elementary School
Nominated by Totti Lampis for Innovation

Hello. My name is Totti Lampis and I am twelve years old. I nowadays live in Helsinki, Finland. During the years 2002-2003 i lived in Ann Arbor, because of that my mother had gotten a job at the University of Michigan Hospitals. We lived in Northside Elementarys school's  district. During my first day at Northside (first schoolday of the autumn term) i did not know a single english word, i entered the school with nothing put some pencils, two dollars for school lunch, an English-Finnish mini dictionary and a backpag. I remember quite well entering my class and not understanding a single word of what the others said. It was quite a new experience. I cannot quite recall when I had my first ESL lesson with Mrs.Noel, but I'm quite sure that it was during my first schoolweek. Howewer, i learned English very fast thanks to the teachings of Mrs.Noel. Since this happened about three years ago i cannot fully recall my first months in school, but I still do remember quite a lot. Mrs.Noel was, and still is the nicest teacher I have met in my entire life. During ESL classes we worked efficiently, we did work on paper and also sometimes worked on the "dinosaurs", the Macintosh Computers from 1995-1996. They earned their nickname because of their old age. Mrs.Noel influenced us to learn, she was VERY nice and helpful, and we knew that if we would be nice and learn a lot we would have a game day on the last lesson of the week; we'd be playing games (that also tought us new english words, altough we did'nt notice it at the time). Game day ended with a chocolate candy (or two) as a reward of our efforts during the week. Mrs.Noel remembers almost all of her old students, and I still remember how extremely happy she became when one of her old students had written a greeting to her on the black board during lunch hour. Mrs.Noel is a truly superb teacher, who without doubt should be rewarded with the Excellence Award. This text is written totally by myself, with no help from any dictionary or any adult. I am quite sure it contains some spelling mistakes, but without Mrs.Noels teachings it would never exist. When i look back into time and think about Mrs.Noel i feel enourmous gratitude to her and what she tought me, since it will be of a great deal of help, especially later in my life.

Mark O'Boyle, Counselor-Forsythe Middle School
Nominated by Torrey Juide, Demarquis Stingley, Valentino Villarreal & Suzanne Lewis for Outstanding Customer Service

Mr. O'Boyle has been a great sixth grade counselor.  He has been more than a counselor. He is helping us with our science fair project.  He has shared his own movies of when he was in his glider.  He told us all about what gliders do and how they fly.  Then he has helped us with the report.  He helped us edit our paper.  And he is going to work with us on the rest of our project.   He is showing us how it all works.He is being a great person and a great counselor.  We think he should get this award because he just doesn't help us.  He helps alot of kids.
Demarqus, Torrey, and Tino.

Mr. O"Boyle has really gone the extra mile with this group of students.  He is truly making a difference in their lives and making the important connection to school.  He has spent hours with this group, inspiring them, motivating them and getting them to do their best work.  He is a dedicated counselor who will make a difference in the achievement of all students.  He goes above and beyond to reach out to kids.  I am lucky to work with him to work with my group of students.

Susan Buchan, Counselor-Scarlett Middle School
Nominated by Catherine Zecher for Outstanding Customer Service

I would like to nominate Susan Buchan for the Celebration of Excellence Award.  She is the best counselor a student could ask for, she has inspired me, she has helped lead me, and she listens to others along with myself..  I remember when I first came to middle school Ms. Buchan helped me get on task with the "FISH" Philosophy.  Every morning she enthusiastically starts off the morning announcements and it helps everyone start the day off with positive attitudes.  She has been with me through my whole middle school experience.  She seems to really love her job and students.  Staff, Parents, and Students really like her.  She is a very special person!

Robyn Kimmey Watson, Counselor-Huron High School
Nominated by Margi Brawer for Outstanding Customer Service

I always thought Ms. Watson singled my daughter for special attention; then I realized she singled out each one of  her students. In an incredibly short period of time,she has made it her business to know each of her charges.  She worked endless hours hours making sure each student schedule fit their individual needs and frequently checked in to make sure school was working for her kids.   She was an advocate for her students and in short, everything a kid (and parent) could ask for in a counselor.

Amy Van Appledorn, Teacher-Huron High School
Nominated by Abbie Estes for Outstanding Customer Service

It is clear that Ms Van Appledorn just loves the subject that she's teaching.  She conveys her enthusiasm in the brief parent/teacher conferences that I have had with her.  She really cares about the students and is willing to help them in  many ways.  She wants them to learn and goes out of her way to ensure that every student has the opportunity to improve.

Jean Reynolds, Paraeducator-Dicken Elementary School
Nominated by Barbara Byers for Innovation

Jean Reynolds is both innovative and a pleasure to work with.  This is her third year with my older son Sam as his teaching assistant.  My son has autism, and the entire team at Dicken has been extremely supportive and creative in helping him achieve his potential, but Jean has been the cornerstone in allowing my son to be fully included and maximize his learning with all the regular/typical students.

She is a full member of our team, and is very skilled and creative in helping my son access and participate in the regular curriculum despite his many challenges.  She is very skillful at adapting and modifying curriculum "on the fly", and she helps bring lessons to a level where Sam can really learn and take part with his classmates.  She is an excellent team player, she is knowlegeable but also very willing to learn new techniques and open to suggestions.  We do a lot of behavioral teaching at home because it benefits children with autism, and Jean, with the whole team, has been incredible as far as helping us coordinate our home and school teams, to Sam's significant benefit.  She is very savvy with behavioral techniques, and has stuck with us through some rough spots, and now Sam is doing amazingly well.

Jean is also someone with a great sense of community, I believe she knows every single child and staff member at Dicken (she also teaches piano after school!).  She also does lunchtime supervision, and is always readily available to help out wherever needed.  All the kids adore her.

So, I really appreciate all the things Jean does for our community, Dicken school, and most of all, enabling my son Sam to be fully included with his peers.  She is multi-talented and a real asset to this district.  Our family is very thankful for Jean, and hope that you recognize her as well.