Michigan announces top 10 ‘Regional Teachers of the Year’

Educators from across the state recognized for 2021-2022 school year

Ten Michigan teachers have each been named Regional Teacher of the Year by the state’s education department, and are now in the running for the Teacher of the Year award.

On Friday, the Michigan Department of Education named 10 teachers from across the state as Regional Teachers of the Year. MDE officials say the honorees were selected for their “dedication to the teaching profession, as evidenced by their commitment to their students and track record of service in the teaching profession.”

As listed by the MDE, the Regional Teachers of the Year for the 2021-2022 school year are:

  • Region 1: Heather French, an English language arts and visual arts teacher at Lake Linden–Hubbell Middle/High School in Lake Linden Schools
  • Region 2: Kacie Hook, an English language arts and drama teacher at Roscommon Middle School in Roscommon Area Public Schools
  • Region 3: Theresa Ziegeler, a social studies teacher at Macatawa Bay Middle School in West Ottawa Public Schools
  • Region 4: Cheldora Haynes, a third-grade teacher at Martin G. Atkins Elementary School in Bridgeport-Spaulding Community Schools
  • Region 5: Janet Swarthout, a speech and drama teacher at Caro High School in Caro Community Schools
  • Region 6: Leah Porter, a kindergarten teacher at Wilcox Elementary in Holt Public Schools
  • Region 7: James Johnson, a social studies teacher at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo Public Schools
  • Region 8: Bethany Vonck, an English language arts teacher at Washtenaw International Middle Academy in the Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium
  • Region 9: Brian Paul, a fourth-grade teacher at Highview Elementary School in Crestwood School District
  • Region 10: Joe Vercellino, a music teacher at Voyageur Academy in Detroit

Photos of the teachers can be found below. You can see a map of the state’s numbered regions right here.

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Region 1: Heather French, an English language arts and visual arts teacher at Lake Linden–Hubbell Middle/High School at Lake Linden Schools

“The Regional Teachers of the Year play key roles in their schools and communities, and also in our statewide effort to improve our schools,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “They offer insights about the needs of our 1.5 million school children and more than 90,000 educators. We are grateful for their leadership and dedication to the teaching profession and look forward to working with them during the next school year.”

The MDE’s annual program is designed to honor educators and give them a platform to share their experience and knowledge with stakeholders. Officials say teachers are nominated for recognition by students, staff and community members, and then must undergo an application process.

The 10 Regional Teachers of the Year will soon interview with a panel of Michigan education stakeholders, and one teacher will be named the Teacher of the Year, officials said. The Teacher of the Year is welcomed as a non-voting member to the State Board of Education, and will be the state’s candidate for the national teacher of the year title.

Congratulations to the 10 honorees!


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