Hundreds of teachers, students and families attended a special ceremony on Thursday, April 25, 2019 to recognize and honor the teachers of the Dearborn Public Schools district at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center for the 22nd annual Alberta Muirhead Teacher of the Year Students’ Choice Award Ceremony. 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 for 2019 are Lisa Younce of Oakman Elementary School (PK-2nd grades), Kimberly Donoghue of Geer Park Elementary School (3rd-5th grades), Aaron Pfeil of Woodworth Middle School, and Keith Rydzik of Edsel Ford High School.Each of the four honorees received a $1,000 cash prize from the Chamber, a hand-made glass apple award from the Glass Academy in Dearborn along with a gift bag full of goodies from area businesses.

The Chamber’s Education Committee, chaired by Philipp Emma, had the tough job of selecting four winners from a field of nearly 1,500 nominations for 408 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.

“For the 22nd year, we are thrilled to honor our local heroes who make Dearborn Public Schools one of the top 45 districts of distinction nationwide. We are so proud of our teachers’ efforts and the daily guidance they offer,” commented Jackie Lovejoy, president of the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are thankful for the support of LaFontaine Automotive Group and all of our sponsors and partners who make this wonderful awards ceremony possible!”

Lisa Younce was nominated as a 1st grade teacher at Oakman Elementary School by her student, Mervet. Mervet wrote in her nomination essay, “I chose my teacher because she is great teacher who helped me progress and be more confident.”

Kimberly Donoghue was nominated by her student, Morgan Lopez for her tremendous efforts as a 3rd grade teacher at Geer Park Elementary.  Morgan shared why her teacher should be recognized among the best. “My teacher is teaching us about the State of Michigan and we create maps. She is also informing the class about her ventures about her travels through our state.”

The middle school teacher of the year, Aaron Pfeil, was nominated for his outstanding teaching at Woodworth Middle School. He was nominated by student Dheye Algalham, who described him teacher as an “astonishing teacher & a respected leader among all students at Woodworth Middle School.”

“Mr. Pfeil helps his students not only on the inside, but outside the classroom. He is willing to help us anytime during lunch, after school, or event before school,” explained Dheye.  

The high school winner, Keith Rydzik was nominated for teaching AP Literature and Composition at Edsel Ford High School. He was nominated by his student Shahab Abdullah.

“Today I am proud to say that I will be attending the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, a feat that I could only dream of two years ago. My AP Language teacher guided me, inspired me, and reassured me all throughout the last two years, I cannot thank him enough!”   

Community partners sponsoring the event are LaFontaine Automotive Group, Campbell Family Owned McDonald’s, Dearborn Federal Savings Bank, Gallagher Benefits Services, DFCU Financial, Dearborn Agency, Century 21 Curran & Oberski, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, 1st Choice Urgent Care, Dearborn Federation of Teachers, MEEMIC Toler-Stemen Agency, Jim Thorpe Ameriprise Financial, University of Michigan-Dearborn, National Flag Football, Famous Hamburger, PSN Technology, La Pita Restaurant, Henry Ford College, HYPE Athletics, Crunch Fitness- Dearborn, STEP (Services to Enhance Potential), Dearborn Education Foundation, Sphinx Technologies, Byblos Banquet Center, EduCare Student Services, Habib’s Cuisine, Bangkok 96 Thai Restaurant, State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, Siena Heights University,  Chief Financial Credit Union, Rugenski Chiropractic, Delta Dental, Kiwanis Dearborn Outer Drive, Buffalo Wild Wings, Mati’s Deli & Detroit Kid City.

Education is one of the Dearborn Area Chamber’s core strategies.  Through programs such as Teacher of the Year, the Chamber, a 600+ member organization, cultivates learning and mentoring opportunities between the student population and local business.

Photo caption: Members of the business and educational communities congratulate the 2019 Teacher of the Year honorees. From left to right: Jackie Lovejoy, President of the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Michael Meade, Dearborn School Board Trustee; Adel Mozip, Dearborn School Board Trustee; Hussein Berry, Dearborn School Board Vice President; Jim Thorpe, Dearborn School Board Treasurer; Pre K – 2nd Grade Teacher of the Year Award Recipient Lisa Younce of Oakman Elementary School; Philipp Emma, Chairman of the Dearborn Area Chamber’s Education Committee; 3-5th Grade Teacher of the Year Award Recipient Kimberly Donoghue of Geer Park Elementary School; Dr. Glenn Maleyko, Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent; Middle School Teacher of the Year Award Recipient Aaron Pfeil of Woodworth Middle School; Mike Law, General Manager of LaFontaine Automotive Group in Dearborn; High School Teacher of the Year Award Recipient Keith Rydzik of Edsel Ford High School; Mary Lane, Dearborn School Board Trustee