2010-2011 Celebration of Excellence Award Winners


Jason Treece, Teacher at Huron High School - Awarded May 11, 2011

Nominated by Phyllis & Rich Coleman for Outstanding Customer Service

Mr. Jason Treece is an outstanding art teacher at Huron High School.  He motivates and inspires his students.  He has an open-door policy to work with students who want or need extra help.  He volunteered to be our son's academic coach this year and has spent many hours working with our son several days a week, communicating with his teachers and with us, and helping our son stay motivated, inspired and organized.  What truly touched our hearts was when he told us he was honored to be asked to be our son's educational coach.  We and our son are most grateful to Mr. Treece for giving of his own time, knowledge and talent on behalf of our son's academic success.


Jennifer Kleber, Teacher Assistant at Carpenter Elementary School - Awarded May 11, 2011

Nominated by Michelle Bobiney for Outstanding Customer Service

I would like to take this opportunity to nominate Jennifer Kleber for outstanding customer service for the care that she consistently gives my 7-year old first grader at Carpenter Elementary.  My daughter, Rachel, has gone through two kidney transplants and related medical treatments throughout her short life. Due to this, she began school late and has missed school at times due to illness and hospitalizations.  She is currently 100% dependent on a feeding tube (G-tube) placed in her stomach to ensure she gets healthy nutrition and most importantly, enough hydration for her transplanted kidney to continue to function properly.  Last year, when Rachel was in kindergarten, I went to school with her every day to tend to her many medical needs. I hadn't worked in seven years because her medical needs (in addition to the normal childhood needs) were so extensive that it took myself, her father and in-home nursing care just to see her through to pre-school age.  Rachel and I also lived out of state from her age of  4 to 5-1/2 so that she could receive the best medical care for her condition.  Her father stayed in MI to work and traveled to see us only on weekends.  So, as you can imagine, our family has had a difficult, but well-worth-it path on our journey of health for Rachel. I would not risk her hard-earned health with just anyone. When she started first grade, I was hesitant to let go, but I knew it was best for her overall development to separate myself a bit and let her become more independent.  I decided to go back to work and let my daughter go to school without me by her side. For the first time in her life, I was allowing myself to trust someone else to care for her and commit to learning how to take care of her many medical needs. 

When we met Jennifer, I sensed that she understood (mom to mom) that I needed someone who could handle the medical tasks with perfection and consistency and to know when to alert me or Rachel's dad to any situation that would be cause for concern. Even more than that, though, I needed her to protect my child and make me feel comfortable that Rachel was in good hands and that there was no need for me to worry.  As the first days and weeks passed I kept expecting some emergency, or to find out that Jennifer changed her mind about taking this on.  When I kept hearing good things about how well Jennifer was doing, such as:  keeping Rachel on her G-tube feeding schedule and administering such feedings, always practicing excellent hygeine and sterile techniques when required, letting myself or my husband know in advance if she was sick or might have been exposed (since Rachel is immune-suppressed), helping Rachel with bathroom and clothing issues, keeping the pads around her G-tube dry and clean, applying sunscreen when required and always being diligent in protecting Rachel's kidney from injury as well as her overall safety in gym class and on the playgroud, I was impressed and relieved.  I truly know I can trust her.  In addition, she is helping Rachel in many positive ways.  Rachel is more confident in her abilities to do things on her own and she is becoming more independent physically and socially.  I miss her terribly while she is at school, but I am so appreciative that I am able to work again after such a long absence and I am happy that my daughter is learning to take more responsibility in her own care and well-being.  This is as close to a "normal" life our family has had in seven years.  None of it would be possible if Jennifer wasn't there to help out with Rachel at school.  Nor would it be possible if my mind weren't at ease knowing that Rachel is getting the best care possible during her school day.  I can't even express how appreciative and grateful I am that Jennifer is my daughter's care-giver at school.  She has exceeded my expectations and allowed this to be an enjoyable and less-stressful time for our family.  Rachel loves her, too!  Please recognize her for the superior service she has given!


Christy Garrett, Teacher at Huron High School - Awarded May 25, 2011

Nominated by Diane Stocker-Bendersky for Outstanding Customer Service

Christy Garrett, business teacher at Huron High School, is most deserving of the Celebration of Excellence Award.  Her service to her students is to be commended.  Christy’s excellence in teaching her content area as well as  for her zest in preparing students to compete and win consistently at local, state and national levels  in  Advanced Accounting, Computerized Accounting, Fundamentals of Accounting , Payroll Accounting and in Banking and Finance is commendable.

Christy is passionate about accounting and finance and brings the real world to the classroom.  She asks her students to project their own financial life expectancies in areas such as employment, housing, transportation, education, marriage, family, retirement and investments.  Her lessons allow students to explore and incorporate those personal finance concepts into their everyday lives, thus providing them with knowledge and skills that will last them a lifetime.

Christy not only energizes her students to learn but inspires them to achieve at their best.  Most notable, this year, is that all of her finance and accounting students that entered the Business Professionals of America (BPA) Regional Competition placed and qualified for STATES shutting out all of the other schools in the Region.  Her students placed 1st through 6th.   This win also included the 4-person Financial Analyst Team.

Outside of her classroom time, Christy has been a BPA Advisor for 15 years.  She has tirelessly worked numerous hours after school mentoring and preparing the accounting and finance students to compete and achieve at the highest level.  She is the type of teacher that demands excellence and pulls brilliance from each student she works with.  She is amazing. She gives students the confidence they can do it and they are amazed and ecstatic when they win 1st, 2nd or 3rd wining over other student s in the State and Nation.

At BPA Nationals in 2010, her student placed in the top ten in Computerized Accounting.   In 2008, the Financial Analyst Team placed 4th  place in the Nation.   Christy’s energy, enthusiasm and quality of her teaching has earned her the respect of the entire staff.  It is a true privilege and joy to work with such a dedicated, talented individual.  Both the students and faculty at Huron High School are fortunate to have a teacher like Ms. Garrett in their midst.  There is no one more deserving of the Celebration of Excellence award.


Mike Derhammer, Teacher at Ann Arbor Open - Awarded May 25, 2011

Nominated by Annie Ruben, Angie Smith and Laurie Krauth for Outstanding Customer Service

I speak on behalf of many of Mike's students and their parents when I say that Mike is beyond an exceptional teacher. There are concrete and tangible things we can point to that he does to go above and beyond to create opportunities and build community within the classroom. He has an after school math club every Tuesday - anyone is invited to stay after school until 5:00 to play math games and do additional studying with Mike.  He also hosts, every year, an end of the year BBQ at his home to celebrate the 6th graders graduating from his class. Every year he invites former students who are now in middle school to come back to his class to talk to the sixth graders about what to expect in junior high. He organizes a parent Euchre night, where once a month parents get together (a different family hosts each month) to play euchre, which is a great community building event. Mike also has the kids vote on community service projects that they want to do. This may be community clean up or making a meal for the homeless or countless other projects.

But there are so many other countless ways that Mike goes above and beyond that are less tangible. There are countless stories and quotes from parents and students that summarize the impact Mike has on kid's learning, self-confidence, their understanding of their place in the world and their responsibility to give back, and simply how they have been inspired by Mike to learn, and to stand at their full height.

Here is a sample from parents: 

“I wish Mike could teach my kid for the next 6 years.”

“Mike is amazing. He should be a teacher educator! He thoroughly understands how to help kids reach their full potential”

“I wish I had been a student in Mike's class.”

“I don't know how my son is going to say good-bye to him. He is my son's hero, his role model, his champion.”

“Can we clone him?”


Some comments from students: 

“Mike makes you want to be the best person you can be.”

 “I don't ever want to leave Mike.”

“We heard there was some bullying happening in other classes in the school. That would never happen in Mike's class. Mike wouldn't tolerate it - but more than that, he has taught us to respect each other and be a community so that we wouldn't tolerate it either - it isn't how we are”

One student was accepted to a program to which he had to apply, and it was a competitive program. Immediately upon learning of his acceptance he said “I could never had done it without Mike. It's because of Mike.”

Please help us recognize Mike for giving our kids countless priceless gifts: a safe environment to learn and grow, confidence, self-assurance, a sense of community and responsibility, appreciation and gratitude for all they have, challenges to help them grow, and the skills they need to succeed in the world. Mike has dedicated his life to making our kids lives better. This is one small way for us to show our appreciation for that.