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Three nominated for Teacher of the Year

March 23, 2011 - Teachers can help shape and mold the hearts and minds of students, no matter the age or grade level.

Three outstanding teachers within the Oxford Community Schools were honored as nominees for the Oakland County Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award at the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 14.

Chadwick Boyd from Daniel Axford, Michael Tootalian, from Oxford Middle School and Molly Darnell, from Oxford High School were all nominated for the 2010-11 Oakland County Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award.

The award has been honoring teachers since 1987 who have achieved, through their effort and example, the highest standards of excellence in their profession.

Boyd, Tootalian and Darnell will find out if they won when Oakland Schools makes a surprise visit to the winning teachers classrooms from Monday March 28 through Thursday, March 31.

The three winners each receive $2,000 from the Oakland Schools Education Foundation at an event to honor all the nominees at Oakland Schools on Thursday, May 5.

Chadwick Boyd

Boyd, a second grade teacher at Daniel Axford, was Oxford Schools Elementary School Teacher of the year for 2010-11.

He has been teaching at DA since 2009, and previously taught second grade in 2006-07. Boyd has been with the district since he began teaching at Leonard Elementary in 2004-05.

DA Principal Joyce Brasington said that Boyd's belief in building relationships and encouraging positive behavior in his students is "a key aspect in creating a comfortable learning environment where students get involved, take risks and develop confidence in themselves as learners."

She noted Boyd is often seen at recess playing with students or supporting students at their after school functions.

"He is a true role model for students," she said. "His students feel comfortable, respected and ready to learn."

One of Boyd's colleagues called him a natural leader.

"When there is an opportunity to head a committee, or assist on a project, he naturally leads. He can be trusted to complete an assignment at the highest level of success," wrote his colleague.

He also wrote Boyd "has very creative ideas and is not afraid to share them with his colleagues...He is on top of current technology and uses it in his classroom daily. He is often helping teachers incorporate technology in their classrooms and is always available to help when there are technological issues with equipment."

One parent wrote Boyd was everything their child wanted in a teacher.

"On top of his excellent delivery of the day-to-day curriculum, Mr. Boyd shows that he sincerely cares about his students and is ready to shift his plans or delivery style to match what his students need in order to succeed."

A former student wrote Boyd made learning interesting and fun.

"School sometimes was boring, but in your class I really enjoyed learning," the student said.

Michael Tootalian

Tootalian, an eighth-grade math teacher, was nominated as the Oxford Middle School Teacher of the Year for 2010-11.

He has taught at Oxford Middle School since 2004.

Middle School Assistant Principal Brad Bigelow nominated Tootalian because "he makes developing relationships with his students a top priority."

"Mr. Tootalian understands the importance of engaging his students fully in the learning process. His students are excited to enter process. His students are excited to enter his classroom each day eagerly anticipating the 'hook' that he will use to engage them in the learning process," Bigelow wrote.

"On many days, Mr. Tootalian will share a math rhyme or humorous story with his students, allowing students to make a connection to the skills and concepts being introduced in the classroom," Bigelow added.

He also noted that Tootalian develops a culture within his classroom where students are not afraid to take risks and make mistakes in front of their peers, which promotes academic and social growth for his students.

A colleague of Tootalian wrote that students respect him and are comfortable with him because he continuously checks for students understanding and "strives to work with students individually each hour of the day."

"The students respond to him because he is consistent and fair...he can set high standards and the students will work hard to achieve them. They want to do their best for him because he works so hard for them," his colleague wrote.

One parent noted that Tootalian is a great teacher because he can translate his knowledge of math into something his students in an easy manner.

"He teaches his students with an easy-going attitude; he works with them and doesn't lecture at them. He is able to connect with them and respond to them appropriately," the parent wrote.

"They learn from him, and most importantly, they retain," the parent added.

One of Tootalian's former pupils wrote that he was a great teacher because he looked out for his students' needs "If you have a question, he has an answer...with every lesson he always explains it well, and asks for any questions or parts the students don't understand."

Molly Darnell

Darnell, a Language Arts teacher at Oxford High School, was nominated by Principal Mike Schweig for the award. Her presence as an outstanding English instructor has been felt since she first started teaching in the district at Crossroads in 1998.

"Mrs. Darnell's philosophy is that knowing her students well makes relating material to their lives easier and more relevant," wrote Schweig. "She takes time to learn how each student reads, writes, studies and prioritizes school work at home."

One of her colleagues noted she was one of the leaders in not only the language arts department, but in the school as well. Her colleague noted Darnell took on the role to become the high school's Middle Year Programme facilitator for International Baccalaureate training and programme development.

"She contributes to the overall reputation of our department as one of the most beloved by our high school students," her colleague wrote.

One parent noted Darnell was very dedicated to her profession and to her students, emphasizing what Schweig said about Darnell.

"She is genuinely concerned with every one of her students far beyond the classroom as she takes interest in what they have planned and emphasizes the importance of education to their future," the parent wrote.

One of her former students praised Darnell for her willingness to go above and beyond to help her students.

"Mrs. Darnell is always available for her students. She helped me when it came to college, advising me on where to go, who to live with, what classes to take...she has done more for me than I could have hoped," the student wrote.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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