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‘Funnest job I have’: Michigan Teacher of the Year visits GRPS

Grand Rapids — Michigan Teacher of the Year Candice Jackson saw place-based learning in action during a recent visit to Grand Rapids Public Schools. 

Led by Region 3 Teacher of the Year Stephanie Nielsen, Jackson stopped by Grand Rapids Public Museum School and Shawmut Hills, where Nielsen teaches kindergarten, to see how the immediate environments of the schools are used to inform curriculum and inspire learning. 

At Museum School, Jackson, a third-grade teacher from Detroit Public Schools, got to see how Grand Rapids’ downtown area factors into environmental education. Shawmut, on the other hand, served as an example of how neighborhood schools make use of their settings.

Jackson said touring schools is one of the best aspects of her role.

“It’s just one of the many jobs I do as Teacher of the Year — probably the funnest job I have — just seeing the differences across the state,” she said.  “I go around and get a bird’s eye view of the different schools across the state of Michigan. … I’ve been to the U.P., I’ve been up near Traverse City, I’ve been to Saginaw — just basically touring the different schools trying to get a feel of what it’s like in the suburbs, in the rural area, in the big city.

“It’s pretty cool to see, even neighboring districts, how different they can be.”

Jackson reports back to the State Board of Education, filling in board members on what she’s observed during her trips.

While at Shawmut Hills, Jackson heard a presentation from middle-schoolers about how native plants were used to spruce up the school’s welcome garden. She toured the grounds with Nielsen before taking a break to read from “Pete the Cat.”

Nielsen said the visit was productive and informative.

“The power of teachers visiting schools is so valuable for inspiration and ideas, and something I wish we could all do more,” Nielsen said. “I’m looking forward to our continued work together this school year.”

Read more from Grand Rapids: 
Crazy for composting: Students pick up new skills at Shawmut Hills
Bolstered by many while a student, this grad now supports others

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Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley is a reporter covering Cedar Springs, Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids and Sparta school districts. An award-winning journalist, Riley spent eight years with the Ludington Daily News, reporting, copy editing, paginating and acting as editor for its weekly entertainment section. He also contributed to LDN’s sister publications, Oceana’s Herald-Journal and the White Lake Beacon. His reporting on issues in education and government has earned accolades from the Michigan Press Association and Michigan Associated Press Media Editors. Riley’s early work in journalism included a stint as an on-air news reporter for WMOM Radio, and work on the editorial staff of various student publications. Riley is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He originally hails from western Washington.


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