Escanaba educator is Michigan’s best teacher | News, Sports, Jobs

MICHIGAN Teacher of the Year NANETTE HANSON enjoys a reception in her honor at the Lemmer Elementary School library. Left to right are Michael Rice, public school superintendent; Hansen; Paulette Wickham, principal of Lemmer Elementary; and Coby Fletcher, Superintendent of Escanaba School. (Andie Balenger/Daily Press Photo)

ESCANABA — A Lemmer Elementary School teacher has been honored as Michigan’s Teacher of the Year for the 2022-23 school year.

In addition to this statewide honor, Nanette Hanson, a first-grade teacher at Lemmer, also received the Regional Teacher of the Year Award for the Upper Peninsula. She received the awards from state superintendent Dr. Michael Rice during a visit to the school on Wednesday.

The awards presentation fit perfectly into Lemmer Elementary’s Staff Appreciation Week celebration, which kicked off Monday. After presenting Hanson with the regional award, Dr. Rice surprised her and those in attendance with the honor of Michigan Teacher of the Year.

“It was very moving” Hanson said. “This is a huge opportunity for me to be the voice of children and teachers in Michigan. I am taking this opportunity to broaden my horizons and become a better teacher.

Hanson has been a teacher for more than 25 years, her positions varying from alternate high school teacher through first grade. Her last 16 years have been in the Escanaba area public school system as a first grade teacher.

“I am happy, excited and grateful for every opportunity I have been given to become a teacher,” Hanson said. “I’ve had special teachers in my life who saw something deep inside me that I wasn’t even seeing. They unlocked that. They believed in me and I thought, ‘Wow, I’m going to do this. ‘

Michigan’s Teacher of the Year award began in 1952, with the intention of not only celebrating the state’s incredible teachers, but also giving them an influential voice in Lansing. Hanson is the third Upper Peninsula teacher to receive the honor, Sharon L. Green and Sue Szczepanski of Marquette Public Schools holding the title from 1994-96 and 1996-97, respectively.

“There are over 100,000 teachers in the state, so this award is a huge honor,” said Rice. “I just think anytime we can honor teachers, it’s a big deal.”

The selection process for the award began in January, with more than 200 teachers from across the state nominated by their colleagues. Those nominations were then forwarded to the state level for processing, where the competitive selection was narrowed twice before officials announced Michigan’s 10 regional Teachers of the Year.

After receiving the regional honor, the 10 teachers competed in a series of day-long panel interviews and written quizzes. Hanson’s admirable commitment to the local community and its students set him apart from all the other candidates.

“It’s incredibly exciting” Escanaba School Superintendent Coby Fletcher said. “To have one of our own, who we all already knew to be a great teacher, recognized as the teacher of the year among all of these people is just an incredible honor.”

Hanson’s award goes far beyond a title. Not only does Hanson hold a seat on Michigan’s 2022-2023 Teacher Leadership Advisory Committee, but she will also hold a non-voting position on the State Board of Education in addition to being a participatory member of the Governor’s Educator Advisory Council. These positions will allow her to be directly involved in discussions regarding issues within public schools, where her experience and opinions will feed into statewide problem-solving actions.

“It’s important work, and I think it’s really important that educators have a voice at the table,” Hanson said. “I will do what is best for the children and I will stand up for them, especially with equity in schools. I will be the voice of equity among disadvantaged populations. I will be their voice.

Hanson’s receipt of the award not only makes her the first teacher in the Upper Peninsula to be recognized in the past 25 years, but she is also the first teacher in the Escanaba school system to do so.

“Not only does this award honor one of our own, it also reflects the overall quality of teaching we have here,” Fletcher said. “We bring in good teachers and give them the freedom to teach. It’s just one more thing that demonstrates the high quality of education we have in our district.

Lemmer Elementary hosted a reception for Hanson in the school library, with a selection of cakes and cookies for teachers and staff.

“I would like to thank, of course, my friends and my family for supporting me in all that I have done”, Hanson said. “But I really want to thank my former Gladstone Schools educators, especially Cindy Blahnik, my French teacher, and the late Gary Bruckart, who was my music teacher. They were awesome.”

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