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2019-2020 MTLAC Cohort

The Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council (MTLAC) is comprised of the 10 Regional Teachers of the Year (RTOY) each representing a specific area of the state.

The group’s mission is to share issues of importance to teachers and students with the MDE, while also providing needed input on proposed department policies and initiatives. During their year of service, MTLAC members provide feedback to MDE through monthly virtual meetings and quarterly face-to-face meetings, sharing best practices and concerns from educators throughout their respective region with MDE staff.

The MTLAC began in 2017 with 24 educators from across Michigan applying directly to MDE for a seat on the advisory council before shifting to its current format in 2018-19 with membership determined through the Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY) program application process.

2019-2020 MTLAC Members

2019-20 Region 1 Teacher of the Year Rachel Gustafson

Rachal Gustafson

Region 1: Rapid River Schools

Rachal Gustafson is a 22-year teaching veteran. She is currently an elementary and middle school special education teacher at Rapid River Schools, where she has worked for the past 6 years. Rachal's teaching experience also includes her tenure at Bark River-Harris Schools as a special education teacher, 3rd grade teacher, 5th grade teacher and Title I interventionalist.

Rachal is currently the co-president of the Rapid River Education Association and a member of the group's negotiating team and scholarship committee. Her other leadership positions include serving as a Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) Ambassador and as a leader of Delta-Schoolcraft ISD's adviser and chairperson of the senior class' all-night, alcohol-free graduation party. In May 2018, Rachal was a recipient of the Outstanding Person in Education award, sponsored by the Michigan Education Association (MEA) and MESSA.

2019-20 Region 2 Teacher of the Year Amanda Clemons

Amanda Clemons

Region 2: Manistee Middle/High School

Amanda Clemons is in her 14th year of teaching. For the past nine years, she has taught Advanced Placement Psychology and 11th grade American Literature at Manistee Middle/High School. Amanda previously taught English Language Arts in grades 7-12 and provided Special Education services for five years at CASMAN Alternative Academy, also in Manistee.

Outside the classroom, Amanda serves as her school's National Honor Society Adviser, English Department Chair, Secondary Technology Coach, Secondary Reading Apprenticeship Coach, a member of the District Professional Leadership Team - helping develop Manistee's mentor teacher program to benefit new hires in the district. As an Apple Education Teacher, Amanda has worked to help her colleagues incorporate technology and 21st century learning into the classroom. 

2019-20 Region 3 Teacher of the Year Katie Farrell

Katie Farrell

Region 3: Bauer Elementary

Katie Farrell has been a 1st grade teacher at Bauer Elementary in the Hudsonville Public School District for the past 14 years. She is very passionate about literacy and developing ways to support the growing readers within her school and district. Katie had the opportunity to be trained in Evidence Based Literacy Instruction (EBLI) and her classroom has hosted many teachers from other districts hoping to learn best practices in literacy instruction.

While working in Hudsonville, Katie has also served as a mentor for numerous colleagues, students teachers and teacher assistants. Katie is also the ELA Committee Facilitator and a member of the School Improvement Team. She also spent several years serving as the District's grade level chair and participated in the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Instructional Rounds protocol as part of a District team on three different occasions. Katie was recently honored by a former student as an inspirational teacher at the Hudsonville Education Foundation's Eagles of Excellence Gala. 

2019-20 Region 4 Teacher of the Year Jeremy Winsor

Jeremy Winsor

Region 4: Fulton Middle School/High School

Jeremy Winsor is a 14-year teaching veteran, with the last 10 years in the classroom at Fulton Schools. As a middle and high school teacher. Jeremy teaches a variety of science-related subjects, including: middle school science, Earth Science, Biology, Forensic Science, Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology and Environmental Science. He previously taught at Ionia High School and Bear Lake Schools. He's also coached wrestling, football and track & field.

Jeremy currently serves on his district's improvement, safety and scheduling committees. He is also chair of the science department and has led the charge for Modeling Instruction Integration. Along with his many roles at school, Jeremy is a co-director for the Beaver Island Institute through Central Michigan University's Chippewa River Writing Project, where he assists educators in building science literacy and fostering inquiry in the science classroom. He is also an active member of the Department of Natural Resources' Salmon in the Classroom program, leading workshops for the last 10 years. 

2019-20 Region 5 Teacher of the Year Jessyca Mathews

Jessyca Mathews

Region 5: Carman-Ainsworth High School

Jessyca Matthews has spent her entire 19-year teaching career at her alma mater - Flint's Carman-Ainsworth High School (CAHS) - where her influence can be seen both inside and outside of the classroom. In addition to teaching English and Journalism courses, Jessyca is a board member of several charitable organizations within the school community, a club sponsor and head coach of both the CAHS girl's soccer program and the University of Michigan-Flint's club team. Jessyca is a playwright, blogger and published author, having written for Nia Magazine and The Mighty, as well as two books of her own. She is also a fellow of the National Writing Project through her work on the Leadership Council of the Red Cedar Writing Project at Michigan State University.

In 2018, Jessyca was named Secondary English Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Council of Teachers of English; Michigan's Teacher of Excellence by the National Council of Teachers of English; and Michigan's Sanford Award winner as one of the county's most inspirational teachers. She was also a 2017 finalist for the National Education Association's Social Justice Activist of the Year award. 

2019-20 Region 6 Teacher of the Year Tricia Zeman

Tricia Zeman

Region 6: Sycamore Elementary

Tricia Zeman has been an educator for 17 years and currently teaches 3rd grade at Sycamore Elementary. She began her tenure in Holt Public Schools as a Literacy Curriculum Coach and has also taught 3rd grade in two other buildings in the district. Tricia also taught Kindergarten, 2nd grade and 3rd grade in Corunna. 

Tricia is currently Holt's 3rd grade curriculum leader, planning for and leading professional development with all grade-level teachers across the district. Her service on several leadership teams and committees has included developing and revising curriculum, as well as designing district-wide assessments. Tricia is a sought-after mentor teacher, both throughout the district and for the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Education. She has provided support to fellow teachers through training, modeling and instructional coaching. Tricia has also served as a panelist providing feedback for the future of MSU's Educator Preparation Program. 

2019-20 Region 7 Teacher of the Year Douglas Duncan

Douglas Duncan

Region 7: Douglas Duncan

Doug Duncan has taught art to students in the Kalamazoo Public Schools district for 18 years, where he is currently working with elementary students at Prairie Ridge and Indian Prairie. While teaching is a second career for Doug, who was a successful graphic artist for 15 years before becoming an educator, it is his calling. A skill artist turned master teacher, Doug earned National Board Certification in 2009.

Doug is trained in both Visual Thinking Strategies and Aesthetic Arts Education, which provides many opportunities for his students to meet with and experience the work of professional artists. He has also served as a mentor to many in art education, presenting at multiple conferences, and coaching 16 Western Michigan University intern teachers and more than 30 pre-intern teachers. Doug also coordinates an annual Empty Bowls event to help raise funds and awareness about food scarcity in his school and community. 

2019-20 Region 8 Teacher of the Year Kristalyn Musselman

Kristalyn Musselman

Region 8: Tecumseh High School

Kristalyn Musselman is a 13-year veteran educator at Tecumseh Public Schools, where she currently teaches high school Health and Leadership. She began her teaching career in Special Education, working specifically with students with students with learning disabilities. 

Kristalyn is passionate about health education, as well as equity and inclusion, and is always looking for ways to bring resources and opportunities to all students. Along with teaching, she is an adviser for the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club, the Gay Straight Alliance, the Peer-to-Peer Support program and Link Crew. Kristalyn also serves as the district's Sex Education Supervisor, co-chair of the Sex Education Advisory Board and is a Goal Leader on the district's Strategic Design Committee. She was co-chair of the district's five-year Sexual Health Initiative for Transformation (SHIFT), leading the project to increase acceptance of LBGTQ students. She has also planned and implemented a range of enrichment activities to promote values and development for students with Autism. Kristalyn is an active member of the Tecumseh Coalition for Youth, a local substance-abuse prevention group, and serves on the Information and Education Committee for the Lenawee Health Department. 

Cara Lougheed Photo

Cara Lougheed

Region 9: Stoney Creek High School

Michigan Teacher of the Year

Cara Lougheed is the 2019-20 Michigan Teacher of the Year. Cara has taught English Language Arts and History in Rochester Community Schools for 21 years. She began her teaching career at Rochester High School in 1998 and was a founding staff member of Stoney Creek High School when it opened in the fall of 2001. Over the years, Cara has taught multiple levels of English, from remediation to Advanced Placement courses, as well as U.S. and World History.

Cara has also served as a Social Studies teacher leader, a building Activities Director, union building representative and a National Education Association delegate. She has worked collaboratively with colleagues and administrators to write curriculum, design an attendance incentive program for students and contribute to various projects designed to increase student connectedness and improve school culture. Cara has also trained six student teachers from four different universities over the last decade. She is currently the student intern and mentor liaison to Oakland University (OU), and is working collaboratively with the Michigan Program Network (MiPN) and TeachingWorks to improve and broaden teacher education. In addition, Cara is an advisory member of OU's Vision 20/20 committee, which seeks the input of classroom teachers in making improvements to teacher education. 

2019-20 Region 10 Teacher of the Year Michele Pizzo

Michele Pizzo

Region 10: Davison Elementary-Middle School

Michele Pizzo is a 24-year teaching veteran, the majority of which have been spent at Detroit's Davison Elementary-Middle School. She taught 4th grade at Davison for 20 years and is currently the 7th grade English Language Arts teacher. She has also served as a grade level chair, data specialist and collaborated with colleagues to write the school improvement plan. In addition, Michele is the district and school-wide spelling bee coordinator, preparing champions to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

An ardent community advocate, Michele is passionate about bridging the school-home gap and its positive impact on student success. She is currently a lead coordinating teacher for the Detroit Public Schools Community District's Parent Teacher Home Visit Program. The innovative program is part of a $3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and aims to build a better connection with families. Michele has volunteered her afternoons and weekends over the past two years to conduct regular home visits. She turned the experience into a leadership opportunity, training fellow teachers in a protocol for visiting their students' homes.