• The Michigan Teachers of the Year who attended the gathering were, front, left to right, James Linsell (2001-02), Rick Joseph (2015-16), Luke Wilcox (2017-18), Matinga Ragatz (2010-11), Susan Gutierrez (2002-03); back, Melody Arabo (2014-15), Dan Schab (2005-06), Nancy Flanagan (1992-93), Jennifer Haberling (2008-09), Gary Abud Jr. (2013-14)
  • It’s a given that Luke Wilcox will be shaking thousands of hands in the next year, so Sue Gutierrez joked with him about the different types of handshakes to expect
  • An engraved business card box was given to Luke Wilcox from former Michigan Teachers of the Year
  • “It never ends,” Matinga Ragatz told Wilcox of what to expect after earning the honor. “Once a teacher of the year, always a teacher of the year”
  • “This opportunity I have is a huge, and I want to multiply it by 1,000,” Luke Wilcox says
  • As Luke Wilcox enters a year where there will be lots of demands on his time, Gary Abud Jr., (not pictured) told him not to forget “You’re still Luke. Make sure you take time for Luke”

‘You’ll Never Be the Same’

Past Honorees Share Experiences, Advice with New MTOY

by Linda Odette  

Being named the Michigan Teacher of the Year doesn't come with a manual for how to navigate the year ahead, so you have to go talk to the "teachers" -- as in former Michigan Teachers of the Year. Luke Wilcox, an East Kentwood High School Advanced Placement statistics teacher who was named the 2017-18 Michigan Teacher of the Year in May, sat down recently with a group of nine former designees for a "passing of the torch" luncheon.


To help him start his adventure, they offered helpful advice that came with a dose of humor. Susan Gutierrez, 2002-03 MTOY and a Forest Hills Public Schools principal who hosted the event, said "It's like a 12-month steroid journey through education."

Matinga Ragatz, 2010-11 MTOY, described it as "kind of like bringing a baby home from the hospital."

Wilcox said he had few fears. “I always had ideas, but now I have this new voice I never much had before,” he said. “This is an opportunity to make some cool things happen.”

The Michigan Department of Education honors a top teacher annually to serve as a spokesperson for the 100,000-plus teachers in the state.

Wilcox listens to former Michigan Teacher of the Year honorees Melody Arabo, left, and Jennifer Haberling. “Your whole world has changed,” Arabo told Wilcox. “You’ll never be the same and you’ll take millions of positive things away”

Luke Wilcox soaked up the advice from colleagues, who told him they’d be there for him throughout the year. “I feel supported,” Wilcox says

Submitted on: June 30th 2017

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