Superior Educators to recognize Copper Country educators this year

Copper Country

HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) – Portage Health Foundation and Copper Country School personnel are collaborating to recognize local educators for going above and beyond with students.

On the first and 15th of each month, starting in September, an educator will be recognized with a certificate, local and social media outlet features and receive a gift card. Parents, other school staff, students or any community member can nominate teachers, bus drivers, volunteers and other support staff on Educators at all K-12 schools in Baraga, Ontonagon, Houghton and Keweenaw Counties are eligible.

The nominations will be read by a volunteer group of local educators that will determine who will be recognized next. Lynette Borree, school psychologist at Copper Country Intermediate School District, says it’s been a tough year for educators and they want to recognize that.

“The big idea is that it’s been a really tough year for educators, a lot of burnout last year because of all the changes and adaptations and so many teachers just went above and beyond,” said Borree. “So we wanted to start this year with a little bit of positivity and keep it going throughout the year.”

Joel Asaila, principal at Washington Middle School in Calumet, says that everyone working in the schools this year has had to make changes that they weren’t used to.

“I was the principal at Horizons Alternative School and I know that these last two years have been very difficult for our teachers and our secretaries and custodial staff and bus drivers,” said Asaila. “Everyone’s had to change the way they approach education and working with kids so that is the biggest thing I think that people don’t see on the outside, they think we make decisions and everything goes smooth but a lot of things we’re doing are continually changing and adjusting our ways to reach our students and especially over the last couple of years it’s been really difficult for a lot of our teachers and bus drivers and custodial staff and stuff like that.”

Asaila says that a group of school staff had been talking about recognizing these types of educators and they took the idea to Portage Health Foundation who helped them with funding and getting a website up and going. Michael Babcock, Director of Marketing & Communications at PHF, says they talked over the summer about how to implement the program.

“We are a big believer in education being a really big indicator of a healthy community,” said Babcock. “We do a lot of things to support the education community around us including scholarships, one of our biggest programs we do every year is called Capturing Kids Hearts so we’re bringing this amazing training that’s kind of focused on the idea of how we can make these students have a good experience whether they are an A+ student, a student that barely gets by, a student that has a lot of family support, a student who has no family support, a student that’s gone through any traumatic experience we want to make sure that those students don’t get left behind and capturing kids hearts is something we’ve been doing for a long time and it fits really well in with what we’re doing with Superior Educators.”

Babcock says they want to make sure that educators who are doing a great job are being celebrated.

“Our hope, in the long run, is that by having strong schools like we do it’s going to help our community come around from some of the corners or the rough spots that we’re in,” said Babcock. “Especially if we can help these students at the lower end who may not be completing school or receiving the support that they need to feel that when they graduate they have the knowledge needed to be a successful part of society so our hope is that by having a stronger school system, we’re going to have a healthier community in the long run.”

The first nominations have already started coming in and the first two educators will be recognized in September.

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