To both be among the top four finalists for MichiganTeacher of the Year, as fellow teachers in the district, was surprising enough for Delia Bush and Tracy Horodyski. But the fact they are also friends and neighbors? That’s just crazy — in a good way, Bush said.
“It’s been nice to be able to celebrate it together all the way through,” said Bush, a fifth-grade teacher at Alpine Elementary, whose son had Horodyski as a teacher.
“It sure is exciting to be able to share all of this with my colleague and friend and neighbor,” said Horodyski, an instructional coach and reading interventionist at Zinser Elementary, whose nephew is in Bush’s class this year.
Both are in the running for state Teacher of the Year, expected to be named this month. The winner will be spokesperson for Michigan’s 100,000-plus teachers, attend State Board of Education meetings, meet the governor and president, and be a nominee for National Teacher of the Year.
The honoree is selected by a committee that reviews applications from teachers throughout Michigan. Applicants submit biographies and essays describing educational history, professional development activities, philosophy of teaching, and their thoughts on education trends and issues.
To have two Kenowa Hills nominees reflects the district’s strong emphasis on student-centered, competency-based education, Bush and Horodyski agreed.
“I think that resonates with the future of education, both of us having that same experience,” said Bush, in her 14th year of teaching in the district. “I think it says we’re doing a lot of things right.”
Bush makes ample use of technology to enable students to work at their own pace to master content. Horodyski also emphasizes self-directed learning and empowering students to take more ownership of what and how they learn.
Both being in the top four “speaks to the work that our district is doing to grow a learning culture, where we are stepping outside of our comfort zones, collaborating and learning from each other,” said Horodyski, in her 17th year of teaching for Kenowa. “It’s a celebration of our district and the work that we’re doing.
“It’s fun to celebrate that with someone else,” she said of the honor. “It’s all good, no matter what.”