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Teacher of the Year honors

Katherine Lamay earned this year's Teacher of the Year award. (click for larger version)
June 01, 2011 - Katherine Lamay, this year's Clarkston Teacher of the Year, joined the district after a summer helping out with SCAMP.

"I saw great things in Clarkston and wanted to be a part of them," said Lamay, Clarkston Junior High School special education teacher. "I couldn't ask for a better place to work."

The Clarkston Foundation sponsors the Teacher of the Year Celebration each year to recognize teaching excellence in the district.

Six finalists receive a basket filled with prizes at the awards breakfast, May 26 at Fountains Golf and Banquet Center, attended by community leaders, school board and administration, family members of the finalist, Clarkston Foundation members, and former Teachers of the Year.

"This is not only an incredible event, it gives us an idea of what community means," said Shawn Ryan, deputy superintendent. "Community is not your address, it's what people value. In Clarkston, we value education, we value our children. I get the incredible sense that our kids are at the center of everything we do."

"Congratulations to all the finalists," said Greg Bunting, Clarkston Fountation vice president. "This is a very enthusiastic bunch, dedicated to their craft."

Teacher of the Year also earns the use of a new car for the entire year, courtesy of Suburban Ford Dealer.

"It is a coveted award, and important to acknowledge in this time of cut backs, pink slips, and hardships in education in Michigan," said Melissa Bunting, Teacher of the Year committee chair, former middle school teacher, and parent of Clarkston students.

Anyone in the community can nominate a teacher, said Melissa Bunting.

The selection committee reviews all nominee packets, which are comprehensive and supportive of the attributes of each candidate.

The foundation rotates the nominations each year between primary, specialty, and secondary educators.

This year was for specialty teachers, including Art, Music, Business, Technology, Special Education, Learning Resource, Early Childhood Special Education, Media Specialists, Health and Physical Education, and Drama.

"Anyone in the community can nominate an educator, therefore it truly is a community effort," Bunting said.

Twelve teachers were nominated this year, with six selected as finalists: Lamay; Tamera Conwell, Clarkston High School special education; Christa Fons, Renaissance High School business education; Meagan Lipke, Sashabaw Middle School art; Kimberly Prentice, Sashabaw Middle School applied technology; and Kara Yeacker, Early Childhood Center SPICE program.

Each finalist was observed in their classroom setting by the awards committee, and followed up by a personal interview with the committee panel.

"The finalist is always announced at the end as a surprise to all," Bunting said. "Magic can happen when we look to our leaders to pass on their knowledge, and enthusiasm to the students they teach, the colleagues that work along side, and the community they impact."

"It's a huge honor," said Lamay, in her sixth year of teacher, her fifth at Clarkston Junior High.

She earned her bachelor's degree in education and master's in special education and K-12 leadership at Michigan State University.

"I really enjoy it," she said. "There are new challenges every day. It's a unique field, very rewarding. I learn a lot from the kids every day I'm so proud of them."

She plans to continue her education, working towards advanced degrees.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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