Holt Educator Named Michigan's 2021-22 Teacher of the Year

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

May 13, 2021

LANSING - Holt Public Schools kindergarten teacher Leah Porter has been named the 2021-22 Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY).

Porter learned of her honor today during a virtual meeting hosted by State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice, the State Board of Education, and the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Porter is a kindergarten teacher at Wilcox Elementary in Holt and will be entering her 16th year of teaching in the fall.

"Ms. Porter is a life-changing educator who has been serving her community for 16 years and counting," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "We are thrilled to honor Ms. Porter as Michigan's 2021 Teacher of the Year and grateful to educators who consistently go above and beyond for their kids every year. Thank you, Ms. Porter, for creating a space for students to, in your own words, have the freedom to be themselves and be celebrated for all that they are."

Since 1952, one of Michigan's outstanding teachers has been named Michigan Teacher of the Year and been offered opportunities to serve as an advocate for the teaching profession at the state level. The Michigan Teacher of the Year program is not about finding the "best teacher," an impossible task; instead, it is about celebrating an outstanding member of the teaching profession and giving Michigan teachers a voice at the state level.

"Congratulations to Ms. Porter, who represents all the great teachers we have in Michigan," Dr. Rice said. "The Michigan Teacher of the Year is an important advocate and ally for teachers and students. We appreciate and will benefit from Ms. Porter and her experiences as we work to improve Michigan public education."

Porter's selection as the 2021-22 MTOY comes after a months-long, multi-level competitive process that started with the nomination of more than 275 teachers in the fall of 2020. The field was narrowed twice, and Porter was named one of the state's 10 Regional Teachers of the Year (RTOY) in April. Each RTOY then interviewed with a panel of statewide education stakeholders, where each presented a short professional development module and answered questions on a range of topics relevant to issues faced by teachers today.

In her application, Porter described her aspirations for students.

"In my greatest dreams, I see an educational system that allows each child

the freedom to be themselves, to have security and trust in their learning spaces, and to be celebrated for all that they are," Porter wrote.

The 10 RTOYs will work together during the upcoming school year as the 2021-22 Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Committee (MTLAC), comprised of the year's RTOY cohort. During their year of service, group members work directly with MDE and other Michigan educational stakeholders to develop solutions to issues facing the state's education system, to ensure that the voices of teachers are present in these discussions.

In addition to her work on the MTLAC, Porter will serve as an advocate for, and representative of, the more than 86,000 public school teachers statewide and engage in discussions on how best to continue to improve Michigan's education system as a non-voting member of the State Board of Education and a member of the Governor's Educator Advisory Council. Porter is also the state's candidate for the prestigious 2022 National Teacher of the Year honor.

Program expenses for the MTOY, as well as the RTOY and MTLAC, are offset through the generous support of the Meemic Foundation, now celebrating its 15th year as the program's sponsor. The Meemic Foundation presents each RTOY and his or her school with a plaque commemorating the accomplishment.

"As we proudly approach our 15th year as the MTOY program sponsor, The Meemic Foundation is honored to join MDE in recognizing Leah Porter as the new Michigan Teacher of the Year as well as celebrating the achievements of the other nine RTOYs," said Pam R. Harlin, director of The Meemic Foundation. "Even in a year that certainly will continue to be filled with challenges around each corner, the diverse backgrounds and passion of these teacher leaders will prove valuable as the teachers serve as voices for all Michigan educators and students. Meemic remains committed to supporting Michigan education and salutes the unwavering dedication of all educators."

Porter and her fellow RTOYs will be formally recognized by the State Board of Education during a future board meeting. To learn more about the MTOY program, the MTLAC and MDE's other educator recognition efforts, visit: https://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-5683_13651---,00.html.