East Kentwood Educator Named 2017-18 Michigan Teacher of the Year

Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Public and Governmental Affairs 517-241-4395
Agency: Education

May 23, 2017

KENTWOOD – Luke Wilcox, described by his colleagues as a teacher who lives and breathes education, was named 2017-18 Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY) today during a visit from State Superintendent Brian Whiston. 

Wilcox is a mathematics teacher at East Kentwood High School in Kentwood Public Schools.  He has 15 years of classroom experience, and was selected from dozens of nominees statewide.

“Great teachers inspire and motivate students to reach goals far beyond what the students originally expected of themselves,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “We honor Luke as the tremendous teacher he is, and to recognize the huge contribution that devoted teachers are making by connecting with students, and elevating young peoples’ lives.”

Whiston congratulated Wilcox on this recognition: “Luke is a dynamic example of our Michigan teachers. He sets a high standard not only for himself, but for his students and fellow educators. He strives to be a catalyst that ignites these teachers with that inspiration and motivation to continue their reach for greatness.

“We look forward to his continued contributions to teaching and learning over the next year." 

Whiston noted that Wilcox, who already helps his peers as an academic support coach at East Kentwood, will carry on the valued tradition of MTOYs who have shared their teaching knowledge, expertise, and skills with educators across the state.

As a youth, Wilcox was shown the necessary supports to get him past difficult obstacles that impeded his learning. With inspiration and motivation from teachers and counselors, he graduated valedictorian of his class.

“Their examples provided me with the drive to later become the successful public educator that I am today,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox, a recent recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics Teaching Award, said he wants to provide this same opportunity and support for young people and has committed his career to this goal.   “Beating the Odds” has become his mantra for helping all students to be successful.

He has taught Algebra 1, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, AP Statistics at East Kentwood High Schools since 2001, and has served as Math Department Chairperson.

He feels that his greatest accomplishments as a teacher are the hundreds of students he has inspired and motivated over the past 15 years. “While I am proud of all their academic achievements, I am most satisfied with their ability to reach goals far beyond what the students originally expected of themselves,” Wilcox said.

“The stories of Wilcox’s mentorship of students are well known in our district,” shared Kentwood Public Schools Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff. “He has also served as a role model for numerous students whose only path out of poverty was through a quality education. Mr. Wilcox is truly a difference-maker in the lives of our students, our staff, and in our community.”

The four other MTOY finalists were Jennifer Crotty, government teacher at Warren’s Fitzgerald High School; Raymond Herek, 9-12 Mathematics teacher, Williamston High School; Dave Stuart Jr., World History and English teacher, Cedar Springs Public Schools; and Gina Wilson, 6-12 Mathematics and Science teacher, Washtenaw Educational Option Consortium.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) uses this award annually to honor Michigan's exemplary educators. The State Board of Education honors the MTOY with a non-voting seat at the Board table during its regular monthly meetings, and to engage in the discussions on helping make Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years.

Through the corporate support of the Meemic Insurance Company, celebrating its 11th year as a proud sponsor of the MTOY program, East Kentwood will receive a monetary award of $1,000 in honor of Wilcox’s recognition as MTOY, to be used for the advancement of education.

Also, Meemic will provide up to $10,000, through the MDE, for Wilcox’s MTOY-related travel during his year-long tenure, along with the opportunity to blog at www.meemic.com.  

The corporate support agreement between the MDE and Meemic also includes a monetary award to be presented to the schools of each of the MTOY finalists.

The MTOY is selected by a committee that reviews nominees from teachers throughout Michigan. Nominees submit biographies and written essays that describe educational history; professional development activities; philosophy of teaching; and thoughts on emerging education trends and issues.

To learn more about the MTOY program, visit www.michigan.gov/mtoy.