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Rockstar Teachers

There's just something about certain teachers that draws students to them in droves and keeps them checking in years, even decades later. Here, we highlight some of these rockstars of the classroom.

Teacher Challenges Students to Think, Take Risks

Mike Swift flipped off the lights in his eighth-grade language arts classroom. He momentarily went into the hall, cracked open the door and peered in, staring. His students shrieked. Swift had created an image they are not likely to forget...

Respect and Relationships Build Bonds with Students

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Bill Kennedy's AP Government class kicks off as it does on most days: with video news footage. Today it's a story about a Defense Department study buried by the Pentagon that found $125 billion...

Her overarching goal: to teach that American ideals are worth striving for

Rebecca Debowski witnesses and guides her students as they learn to look at things in a more nuanced way and respect what one another have to say, from every perspective...

Part Silly Adult, Human Monkey Bar; All Kindergarten Teacher

Gerald Neff sits on a kindergartner-size table at the front of his classroom on a recent morning and welcomes his class to a new day. "Morning Georgia! You're wearing a dress. Are you getting married today?" he asks a youngster...

‘I show them another way, and another way, and another way’

A bank was robbed. Fifteen suspects – all middle-school staff members – had their mugshots taken, each holding a dollar bill up to their forehead. Algebra students were notified. The CSI team was waiting on video surveillance to confirm the...

Michigan art teacher of year makes all subjects ‘artful’

Art teacher Adrienne DeMilner brings art into all subjects and areas at East Kentwood Freshman Campus and out into the community. She was recently awarded 2018 Michigan Art Educator of the Year and Secondary Art Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Art Education Association...

‘It is what I was meant to do. These are my kids.’

Whitley Morse greets her first-hour Monday history class with smiles at the door – “I love your glasses!” – then with a chat-around about their weekends. A couple of her Ottawa Hills High School students tell of fixing their...

After Auto Industry, He Chose ‘Noble Career’ of Teaching

David Staublin has been known to poke fun at his diminished hearing. Having grown up in Charlevoix, he said, he attended "a lot of concerts" at Castle Farms, a '70s and '80s mecca for rock 'n' roll. "And I think...

Seismic lessons from this rock star teacher

GRCC Geology Professor and volcanologist Tari Mattox brings her first-hand knowledge of eruptions, rocks and much more into class...

Sisters Follow Identical Career Paths

West Godwin Elementary School Principal Steve Minard remembers interviewing teachers for a third-grade position. One candidate had an ideal background: an elementary education degree from Hope College and teaching experience in Honduras. Later that afternoon, another teacher interviewed with the...

She Collects Books, and Lets Students Choose Them

English teacher Katie Sluiter's Wyoming Junior High classroom is a testament to the power of words, in the books eighth-graders eagerly grab from her library and in the writing she did to get those 1,000 popular works onto her...

‘Bring your best every day’

Katie Bredeweg, a second-grade teacher at Stoney Creek Elementary, talks about her experiences in the classroom and the lasting impact that a teacher can have...

Kenowa Hills’ Tracy Horodyski Named Michigan Teacher of the Year

Tracy Horodyski dreamed as a child of being a truck driver, but ended up helping steer students toward their own dreams. Her success in doing so earned her the honor of being named 2016-17 Michigan Teacher of the Year. The...
“He’s very energetic,” said student Evelyn Griffin. “He makes learning fun”

‘The Classroom is Why I Wake Up in the Morning’

Eighth-grader Aaron Souter touched an iPad screen to maneuver a sphero along a stairwell floor, while classmate Ryan Reszka constructed an obstacle course of ramps for the plastic robot to jump. The coding skills students need to pull off the...

‘Nobody can take our education away’

After completing her student teaching at Thornapple Kellogg, Erin Kraker is back, bringing her own style to the classroom...

Helping Students Love Messy, Beautiful Nature

On a damp and chilly morning, two dozen children follow Greg Petersen down a woodchip path toward a thick woods. He stops them by a fenced-in pond, just where the path leads into the woods like a tunnel, and...
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