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2021-22 Regional Teachers of the Year

2021-22 MTLAC Cohort

2021-2022 MTLAC Cohort

Photo of 2021-22 Region 1 Teacher of the Year Heather French

Heather French

Region 1: Lake Linden-Hubbell Middle/High School

Heather French is an English and Visual Arts teacher at Lake Linden Schools. She attended Escanaba Area High School and Michigan Technological University where she graduated in 2007. She has been teaching English for fourteen years, the last ten years in Lake Linden, and this is her first year teaching Visual Arts.

Heather is a member of the Copper County Reading Council, the Copper Country Education Association, and writer for the local newspaper. Heather is the Yearbook advisor, Drama Club Advisor, Middle School Student Council advisor, head of the Teacher's Jeans Fund at her school that distributes their money to local charities and events, and started her school's "Care Closet" where they help provide essential care items to any students in need. 

Photo of 2021-22 Region 2 Teacher of the Year Kacie Hook

Kacie Hook

Region 2: Roscommon Middle School

Kacie Hook, teaches 6th and 7th English and Drama at Roscommon Area Public Schools. She finished her 6th year teaching, and 4th year at Roscommon Middle School (RMS). Kacie is an active leader in her district and holds a place on many diverse committees. These include: Blueprint District and Building Networks, the Talent Management Committee, the Student Success Team, and the Curriculum Research Team. She is also the head track and field coach at RMS.

Kacie prides herself on her ability to connect with students from all backgrounds and finds a way to help them love learning. She also leads her district in writing, tuning, and implementing Understanding by Design curriculum unit framework, which has Social Emotional Learning woven into the units.

Photo of 2021-22 Region 3 Teacher of the Year Theresa Ziegeler

Theresa Ziegeler

Region 3: Macatawa Bay Middle School

Theresa Ziegeler has dedicated over 30 years to the field of education and currently teaches at Macatawa Bay Middle School in Holland, Michigan. As the grade 6-8 History & Geography department Chairperson, she is a member of the School Improvement Team and creates a culture of collaboration for Professional Learning Community work that is continually used to improve teaching and learning for all.

Early in her career, Ms. Ziegeler taught overseas in the Department of Defense Dependent School system teaching family members of our nations' military personnel stationed in Germany. Experiencing the life of a global citizen first hand created a base of perspective that she continues to bring to her social studies classroom in West Ottawa Public Schools today.

At Macatawa Bay Middle School, Theresa has been the program leader for over 20 years of student educational travel experiences which inspire many to further their own education and future careers in fields stemming from trips to our nation's capital as well as Australia. 

Photo of 2021-22 Region 4 Teacher of the Year Cheldora Haynes

Cheldora Haynes

Region 4: Martin G. Atkins Elementary

Cheldora Haynes is a 3rd grade teacher at Martin G. Atkins Elementary in Bridgeport-Spaulding Community Schools. She has been teaching for 16 years. For the last 10 years, Cheldora's mantra has been 'Teamwork makes the Dream Work' and she is constantly working to improve her ability to work as part of the team. To that end, she continues to seek out lasting community partnership at the local, state and national levels. 

Creating a pathway for agency is Cheldora's purpose behind her teaching. She stands behind Michigan's Social-Emotional Learning efforts. The idea of scholars knowing where they are academically, socially, and emotionally, and can utilize tools they have been equipped with to move their own needle to intrinsically want to improve. 

Photo of 2021-22 Region 5 Teacher of the Year Janet Swarthout

Janet Swarthout

Region 5: Caro High School

Janet Swarthout has been a speech, drama, and debate teacher for 42 years, with the last 37 years at Caro Community Schools. She has taught communication skills to students in grades 9 through 12, along with coaching highly competitive debate teams for 15 years and directing theatrical/musical productions for 27 years. She is an active member of the Caro Education Association where she was the chief negotiator and/or grievance chairperson for 35 years. 

Michigan Teacher of the Year Leah Porter

Leah Porter

Region 6: Wilcox Elementary

Leah Porter has been a Kindergarten, Reading Recovery, and Intervention teacher in Holt Public Schools over the last 15 years. Rooted in a passion for literacy and learning, she has stood as a leader and advocate for the youngest learners, presenting at conferences at the local, state and national level, along with publishing articles in The Reading Teacher, The Journal of Reading Recovery, and Michigan Reading Journal. With a drive for community outreach and support, she has developed and led an annual summer outreach program for historically underserved youth, providing enrichment and literacy experiences within the community. 

As leader of the Wilcox Elementary Student Council, she provides leadership and volunteer opportunities for 2nd-4th grade students in projects and fundraisers for the school and community at large that support local students and families. In her role as a Kindergarten teacher leader, Leah plans and organizes curriculum, assessment, and professional development with her grade level colleagues, striving to support her district teachers in new initiatives.

She has recently become a co-chair on the Student Committee of her district Equity and Access team, leading and supporting projects in mentorship, K-12 student clubs and developing character and leadership curriculum which strives to provide equitable experiences for all students. 

Photo of 2021-22 Region 7 Teacher of the Year James Johnson

James Johnson

Region 7: Loy Norrix High School

James Johnson teaches high school Social Studies in Kalamazoo Public Schools. Through six years of teaching, he has worked primarily with 10th grade students in US History and AP US History, and also teaches Current Events. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Johnson is the Social Studies department head, a National Honor Society advisory council member, and has evaluated and adapted district curriculum to adapt to virtual education. As an educator and coach, he models a growth mindset and love of learning. He is passionate about teaching digital literacy skills and encouraging students to think for themselves and be critical consumers of information.

As a member of the American Historical Association, he continues to study and read about history, specifically striving to include primary sources from culturally diverse perspectives. 

Photo of 2021-22 Region 8 Teacher of the Year Bethany Vonck

Bethany Vonck

Region 8: Washtenaw International Middle Academy

Beth Vonck is from Ypsilanti, Michigan. Beth is a lifelong educator who currently teaches Middle Years Programme, Language and Literature, to grade 6-8 at Washtenaw International Middle Academy and High School. In her 40 years as an educator, she has taught at every grade level, pre-K through alternative and adult education. 

Beth is passionate about sharing her experience with others as she mentors teachers working to create trauma informed and inclusive classroom communities. Beth also shared her experiences by serving for three years on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council, creating teaching videos for The University of Michigan Teaching Works program, and mentoring student interns. Beth's mission is to help people identify, celebrate, use, and grow their unique gifts. 

Photo of 2021-22 Region 9 Teacher of the Year Brian Paul

Brian Paul

Region 9: Highview Elementary School

Brian Paul is a 4th grade teacher from Highview Elementary at Crestwood School District in Dearborn Heights. This is his 11th year of teaching. He spent his first six years in Kindergarten and his last 5 years in 4th grade. He is most passionate about continuously nurturing positive relationships with his students, families and fellow teachers. He strongly believes in using data to drive education. Furthermore, he desires to bring more awareness to schools about restorative practices, especially in the post-pandemic 2021-22 school year.

Janine Scott Regional Teacher of the Year

Janine Scott

Region 10: Davis Aerospace Technical High School

Janine Scott is a second career mathematics teacher at Davis Aerospace Technical High School in Detroit. She has been teaching in the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) for a total of 16 years. Prior to the classroom, Scott was an award-winning sales engineer for over 13 years. In addition to giving her all inside her math classroom.

Scott is also active in her district, as well as both professional and public service organizations. She was worked with the DPSCD textbook selection committee and helped the district to write help write the HS math curriculum guides. She has also taught a College of Education Technology at Wayne State University, and works as a consultant at Schoolcraft College to develop and present math workshops. She is currently the president of Chalkbeat's reader advisory board, sits on the national K-12 Education Committee for the Society of Automotive Engineers, serves as a National Honor Society advisor, and is a mentor teacher for the Davis Aerospace Robotics team.