By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Four Dearborn Public Schools teachers were honored and recognized along with hundreds of teachers from the district during the 20th annual Alberta Muirhead Teacher of the Year awards May 24.
During the reception held at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, teachers at the pre-kindergarten, third- to fifth-grade, middle school and high school levels were awarded.
Henry Ford Elementary second grade teacher Julianne Spencer, Maple Elementary fourth grade teacher Nagwa Ali, Salina Intermediate eighth grade math teacher Elham Barbat and Dearborn High School 11th grade chemistry teacher Thomas Brown each were honored in their respected categories.
Teachers at each grade level nominated teachers by sending in letters to the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce where a committee selected winners.
“We received over 1,800 letters this year,” DACC President Jackie Lovejoy said. “Copies of the letters are made and the names of teachers are blacked out before they are read to ensure fair voting.”
Each winner received $1,000, a month membership to the Dearborn Racquet & Health Club, family membership to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and certificate from U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn).
Before winners were announced, a letter from the nominating student for each teacher was read to attendees.
Henry Ford Elementary second-grader Deanna Taha said her teacher is the best because she makes learning fun and allows them to read onstage in the classroom.
“My teacher is kind and helpful,” Taha said. “She helps me with my math and with any other subject. She is proud of me when I do good.”
Spencer thanked her student and the chamber for the award.
“We all love what we do as teachers and that is why we do it,” Spencer said. “I’m honored for being nominated and winning. Hearing what Deanna said makes my job worth it and enjoyable.”
Maple Elementary fourth-grader Fatima Sayeh nominated her teacher because she loved how Ali greeted her when she entered the classroom.
“Mrs. Ali always stands by the door each day and tells us thank you for coming to school,” Sayed said. “She makes coming to school fun especially when we bake on Fridays and use what we make to do math. I also love the girl power club she started for us after school.”
“I’m shocked by the nomination and winning the award,” Ali said. “My students make being a teacher enjoyable so I’m just thankful for he opportunity.”
The student of Barbat, Salina Intermediate eighth-grader Nadine Souedan said the connections her teacher makes are very important.
“She connects classroom learning with everyday life showing us how math is used in everyday life,” Souedan said. “This helps me know that I am learning these subjects and things for a bigger reason.”
Barbat was not in attendance at the awards.
At the high school level, DHS chemistry student Hannah Jaafar said Brown has prepared her for anything that comes her way.
“Mr. Brown makes a connection with his students and lets us know learning does not have to be boring,” she said. “He encourages us to reach potential in class and in life. Also, he says doing things our own way is the best way.”
Brown said he was honored by the nomination and winning because he loves teaching and his students are what keep him going.”
Supt. Glenn Maleyko praised all the teachers in the district and their efforts to create a strong district.
“You are the teachers who make a change with students every day,” he said. “The positive relationships and connections made between students and teachers are proven when students graduate and come back to visit teachers.”
For more information on the awards go to www.dearbornareachamber.org.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)