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Walled Lake Elementary School Teacher Named Michigan Teacher of the Year

May 15, 2014

LANSING –Walled Lake Schools’ Melody Arabo was named 2014-15 Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY) today during a school visit from State Superintendent Mike Flanagan.

Arabo, a third grade teacher at Keith Elementary School with 12 years of classroom experience, was selected from 238 applicants statewide.

“Every day, teachers touch the lives of students in significant ways,” said Governor Rick Snyder.  “We honor Melody for her incredible achievements in the classroom and to express our appreciation of the men and women who work every day to open up a world of learning to Michigan's children."

Flanagan congratulated Ms. Arabo on this recognition, saying, “Melody is a dynamic example of our Michigan teachers. Her child-centered approach to learning ensures she is meeting the needs of all her students. We look forward to her continued contributions to teaching and learning.”

Flanagan noted that Arabo will carry on the valued tradition of Michigan Teachers of the Year who have shared their teaching knowledge, expertise, and skills with educators across the state.

When she first started college, Arabo was in a marketing program. At that time, she also took an opportunity to become a paraprofessional at a local elementary, using her Chaldean language skills to work with English language learners. Through this she began to recognize a sense of purpose and belonging. The more she worked with students, the more she realized what a difference she could make. By the end of the first month, she had switched her major to Elementary Education. 

An alumna of the Galileo Leadership Academy, Arabo, currently is one of five Michigan teachers who were selected for the NEA-sponsored Master Teacher Project, an elite national program where 96 of the nation’s best teachers share their best practices to other teachers. 

"Being selected as a Master Teacher is an amazing accomplishment that I am very proud of," Arabo said. "However, my greatest accomplishment so far is being considered to represent the state of Michigan as an effective teacher in preparation for citizens of the world."

Walled Lake Consolidated Schools Superintendent Kenneth Gutman described Arabo as "an inspiration to her students and their parents. Her ability to reach each of her students from a variety of backgrounds is simply incredible. She represents the ideal combination of scholarly ability, dedication, determination, maturity, and an unmatched child-centered passion.”

The Michigan Department of Education has used this award annually to honor Michigan's exemplary educators. The State Board of Education honors the Michigan Teacher of the Year with a seat at the Board table during its regular monthly meetings, and to engage in the discussions on moving Michigan's system of education forward.

"I believe that teaching should be transformational, with constant reflection, change, and growth," Arabo said. "I have always been committed to researching the latest best practices and modifying instructional strategies to be more effective.” 

"The teaching profession is in a constant state of change and it is a teacher’s job to grow and evolve with it," Arabo explained. "Teaching should not be a closed door environment; rather it should be a transparent setting of collaboration and shared expertise. Ultimately, we all have the same goal of helping students succeed so we should strive to reach it together."

Through the corporate support of MEEMIC Insurance Company, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools will receive a monetary award of $1,000 in honor of Ms. Arabo's recognition as Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY) to be used for the advancement of education. Also, Arabo will receive the use of a car during her tenure as MTOY, along with the opportunity to tell her story and communicate via blog on

The corporate support agreement between the Michigan Department of Education and MEEMIC Insurance Company also includes a monetary award to be presented to the schools of each of the MTOY finalists.

The other educators selected as state-level finalists for the Michigan Teacher of the Year Award are: 

  • Mrs. Melanie Dever, math and science teacher, Mill Creek Middle School, Dexter Community Schools
  • Mrs. Kay Wejrowski, media and English teacher, Swan Valley High School, Swan Valley School District 

The Michigan Teacher of the Year is selected by a committee that reviews applications from teachers throughout Michigan. Applicants submit biographies and written essays that describe educational history, professional development activities, philosophy of teaching and thoughts on emerging education trends and issues.

For additional information on the Michigan Teacher of the Year program, access