Dr. George Heitsch, Farmington Public Schools’ superintendent, surprised four Farmington Public Schools’ teachers Wednesday with big news.
Elizabeth Hatfield-Walsh (Gill Elementary School), Cheryl Newcomer (Power Upper Elementary School), Martha Mathison-Monson (Dunckel Middle School), and Patricia Torres (Harrison High School) have been named the District’s 2015-2016 Teachers of the Year.
Elementary Teacher of the Year – Elizabeth Hatfield-Walsh
Described as her school’s “biggest cheerleader,” Liz Walsh has been a Gill Elementary teacher for 23 years, currently with first grade. She holds both a Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education, and a Masters of Art, Education, from Eastern Michigan University.
Walsh serves on the Professional Learning Committee (PLC) where, with her grade level colleagues, she has created a team that dissects data, sets up meaningful interventions and works collaboratively to make the students succeed. She has done work on the Building Leadership Team and is taking the lead in making Gill a “Cultures of Thinking” school.
Walsh empowers her students to be independent thinkers, creating an atmosphere of respect and support. She engages students with music, writing music that corresponds to the lesson and interactive activities and knows that strong parent-teacher communication is vital in a student’s education. She was one of the instrumental forces in creating the Gill Parent Place room.
Upper Elementary Teacher of the Year – Cheryl Newcomer
Cheryl Newcomer has been with the District since 2002 and is currently a sixth-grade teacher at Power Upper Elementary School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education/Language Arts from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and her Masters of Art in Teaching from Marygrove College.
Nominated in part for her “sunniness, eternal optimism and willingness to pitch in to help anyone at any time,” Newcomer uses dramatic storytelling, movement, music, continual humor and positive reinforcement to motivate her students. She attends workshops, classes and conferences that will improve her teaching and impact student learning, and is a leader in Galileo, the Farmington Teacher Leadership Academy. She works tirelessly to build relationships with parents, students, and colleagues.
Middle School Teacher of the Year – Martha Mathison-Monson
Martha Mathison-Monson, who was also selected to receive a two-year car lease from Suburban Collection, has been with the District since 2003 and currently teaches Spanish 7/8 at Dunckel Middle School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and French at Lycoming College and her Master of Arts in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College.
Mathison-Monson uses computer technology, group work, Cultures of Thinking protocols, and graphic organizers to ensure that all of her students have the ability to succeed. She is a pioneer in the use of Google Classroom to communicate with parents and students alike, serves on numerous committees within the school, and is described in her nomination form as “the type of teacher we all want our kids to have.”
High School Teacher of the Year – Patricia Torres
Pat Torres began her career with the District in 1995 and is currently teaching 9-12 Spanish and Dialogues in Diversity at Harrison High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education at Grand Valley State University and her Master of Arts degree in Bilingual/Multilingual Education from Wayne State University.
Described as an “everybody hero” at her school, Torres engages students, builds relationships with them, and truly cares for their learning and what happens outside of school. She is available to help students anywhere, anytime and is often found at school working on weekends and during vacations. She serves as Department Chair, National Honor Society and Academic Hall of Fame Faculty Committee member, and has developed a “Dialogues in Diversity” class that prompts students to discuss critical issues of race, tolerance and acceptance.
All of the Teachers of the Year will be recognized at the May 3 Board of Education meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Lewis Schulman Administration Building.