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MDE Names 2023-24
Regional Teachers of the Year
April 10, 2023
LANSING – In addition to the many roles that they play in their schools, ten Michigan educators have a new title: 2023-24 Regional Teacher of the Year (RTOY). Each of these outstanding educators will also be a finalist for 2023-24 Michigan Teacher of the Year (MTOY).
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) organizes the Teacher of the Year program to honor and elevate teacher voice. Honorees will have the opportunity to share their experiences and knowledge as they work with stakeholders to strengthen Michigan’s public schools for students and educators.
“The Regional Teachers of the Year play key roles in their schools and communities and in our statewide effort to continue improving our schools,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “They offer insights about the needs of our 1.4 million school children and more than 90,000 educators. We appreciate their leadership and dedication to the teaching profession and look forward to working with them over the next school year.”
The 2023-24 Regional Teachers of the Year are:
Region 1: Gina Pepin, a reading teacher at Lemmer Elementary in Escanaba Area Public Schools
Region 2: Brandi Clark, a mathematics teacher at Kalkaska Middle School in Kalkaska Public Schools
Region 3: Stephanie Nielsen, a kindergarten teacher at Shawmut Hills Academy in Grand Rapids Public Schools
Region 4: Bridgit Sova, a special education teacher at H.H. Dow High School in Midland Public Schools
Region 5: Jennifer Senkmajer, a fourth grade teacher at Yale Elementary School in Yale Public Schools
Region 6: Nicole Minor, a mathematics teacher at Lansing Eastern High School in Lansing School District
Region 7: Jaime Hilaski, a mathematics teacher at Schoolcraft Junior-Senior High School in Schoolcraft Community Schools
Region 8: Lori Richert, a second and third grade teacher at Childs Elementary in Lincoln Consolidated Schools
Region 9: Vanessa Robert, a kindergarten teacher at Canton Charter Academy in Canton
Region 10: Candice Jackson, a third grade teacher at Mann Learning Community in Detroit Public Schools Community District
The RTOYs were selected following a multi-part, competitive application process that began with being nominated for Michigan Teacher of the Year. The nominations were submitted by students, staff, and community members from across the state. A map of the 10 RTOY regions can be found on the MDE website.
The 2023-24 honorees were chosen for their dedication to the teaching profession, as evidenced by their commitment to their students and track record of service in the teaching profession.
Together, the RTOYs comprise the Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council (MTLAC). The mission of the MTLAC is to bring teacher voice to a wider audience, including direct work with MDE to provide input on proposed policies and initiatives. The MTLAC helps to share valuable information and resources with colleagues in the different regions.
The next step in the process is for each RTOY to interview with a panel of statewide education stakeholders, with one individual selected as the 2023-24 Michigan Teacher of the Year. The MTOY has a seat at the State Board of Education table as a non-voting member; attends several national conferences with fellow state teachers of the year from other U.S. states and territories, representing the experiences of Michigan’s teachers and students; and will be Michigan’s candidate for National Teacher of the Year.
“As a proud sponsor of the Michigan Teacher of the Year program, The Meemic Foundation would like to offer our congratulations to the 2023-24 class of Michigan Regional Teachers of the Year. We wish them all the best as they begin this tremendous adventure to unite and share their vast experiences from their regions to support the continuous pursuit of excellence in Michigan education. All of us at Meemic could not be prouder to have each of them representing Michigan education,” said Pam Harlin, director of The Meemic Foundation.
Program expenses for Michigan’s teacher of the year program are covered through a generous partnership with The Meemic Foundation.
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