DEARBORN – The Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce recognized and honored the winners of its 2020 Alberta Muirhead Teacher of the Year Students’ Choice Awards Sept. 28.
The virtual event was broadcast live via the chamber’s Facebook page and the district’s YouTube channel, Facebook account and cable channels. The ceremony, hosted by the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce and presented by LaFontaine Automotive Group recognized the Teacher of the Year for grade categories Pre-Kindergarten-2nd Grade, 3rd-5th Grade, Middle School and High School.
The winning teachers are Andrea Sims of DuVall Elementary School (Pre K-2nd Grade), Michael Hawkins of Nowlin Elementary School (3rd-5th Grade), Ryan Piche of Bryant Middle School, and Dan Taylor of Fordson High School. Each honoree received a $1,000 cash prize from the DACC, a hand-made glass apple award from the Glass Academy in Dearborn along with a yearlong membership to The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation.
These teachers are now part of a select group of Dearborn teachers who have been recognized by the community for their ability to make a difference.
The DACC Education Committee, chaired by Philipp Emma, had the tough job of selecting four winners from a field of nearly 1,500 nominations for more than 350 teachers. Nominations were received and carefully chosen by the committee, made up of a group of dedicated and highly motivated members of the educational and business communities.
“We start this process in the fall and are ready with our winners before April 1,” DACC President Jackie Lovejoy said. “That timeline really served us well with the pandemic arriving. We’ve been waiting to award in our usual style, and we just couldn’t delay any longer.”
Sims was nominated as a first-grade teacher at DuVall by a student, who wrote in her nomination essay: “My teacher is funny and smart. She knows all the answers. I love school because she makes it interesting. She always reads stories with silly voices for the characters. She lets me play with play dough. She made a field trip just so my mom could go with me when she was off work. It made me so happy. School is fun because I get to draw pictures and write stories.”
Hawkins was nominated by his student, Liana Llamas, for his stellar efforts as a fourth-grade teacher at Nowlin. Liana shared why her teacher should be recognized among the best,
“On Monday I am an engineer, on Tuesday I am an artist, on Wednesday I am a scientist and possibly a doctor by Thursday.” Liana wrote. “Neatly written on the blackboard everyday my teacher writes us a different note, ‘Good morning my little engineers.’ My caring teacher not only makes learning fun but is very inspirational with his kind words we see every morning. I think those words of encouragement are not only positive and motivational but are a fun way of thinking about our future goals and aspirations.”
Piche, was nominated for his outstanding teaching at Bryant. He was nominated by a student who said, “Mr. Piche has helped me throughout the years, he is always willing to have a personal conversation even if he has to sacrifice much of his time. I’ve never had a teacher like him before and glad I had him in a classroom, I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am if it weren’t for Mr. Piche.
“He worked very hard, more than I ever would if I were a teacher, I really respect that and even when he is going through his own personal anarchy of being a father and being married he still teaches amazingly. I’ve never seen Mr. Piche stressed as he only provides joy and peace for all.”
Taylor was nominated for teaching Orchestra and Band at Fordson. He was nominated by his student Heba Chokr.
“When I had joined orchestra, my only intention was to learn how to play the cello, and that’s it,” Chokr wrote. “I had no intention to ever play with a bunch of people and to work with them. To me the cello was a solo instrument meant for me, myself, and I. It wasn’t until Mr.Taylor pulled me from the back room to play with the rest of the orchestra I learned the most important lesson that I will carry with me to college and life. Life isn’t a solo, and you must work together with people in order to be successful.
“Going from playing with myself to playing with an entire orchestra was very difficult, but Mr.Taylor taught me that I need to listen to others and not focus on just myself in order to create something beautiful. It’s because of orchestra I have learned to become a better listener, and a better student that isn’t focused on just themselves. Without Taylor the lessons that I have learned wouldn’t have been as clear and without those lessons I wouldn’t be prepared for college or life.”
Community partners sponsoring the event are LaFontaine Automotive Group, Campbell Family Owned McDonald’s, Century 21 Curran & Oberski, Dearborn Agency, Dearborn Federal Savings Bank, DFCU Financial, Gallagher Benefits Services, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, Dearborn Federation of Teachers, Fairlane Town Center, Greenland Markets, Jim Thorpe Ameriprise Financial, Kumon of Dearborn Heights, MEEMIC Toler-Stemen Agency, Sphinx Technologies, Westborn Agency MEEMIC, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Crunch Fitness-Dearborn, Dearborn Education Foundation, EduCare Student Services, Famous Hamburger, Habib’s Cuisine, La Pita Restaurant, PSN Technology, Services to Enhance Potential, state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, Chief Financial Credit Union, Dearborn City Clerk George Darany, Delta Dental, Mati’s Deli, Rugenski Chiropractic and Siena Heights University.
Education is one of the DACC’s core strategies. Through programs such as Teacher of the Year, the Chamber, an organization of more than 600 members, cultivates learning and mentoring opportunities between the student population and local business.
For more information, contact the DACC by phone at 313-584-6100. Be sure to follow the DACC on Facebook at facebook.com/DearbornAreaChamber, on Twitter @DbnAreaChamber and online at www.dearbornareachamber.org for all the latest news and events.