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Announcing the 2021 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year

UMS and the DTE Energy Foundation are pleased to honor King Elementary and A2V+ Virtual Academy’s Laura Wayne as the 2021 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the award ceremony was postponed to the spring of 2022.

The award recognizes and celebrates educators who value the importance of arts education and create a culture for the arts to flourish in their school communities.

A teacher at King Elementary and, during the 2020-21 school year, the A2V+ Virtual Academy, Ms. Wayne, was nominated through a public nomination process.  UMS and the DTE Foundation are thrilled to recognize Ms. Wayne’s exemplary work at both King Elementary and the A2V+ Virtual Academy. The DTE Foundation is sponsoring the award as part of its annual grant support for UMS Youth Education Programs.

Described by colleagues as an open-minded, calm, and inclusive presence who truly believes in her students’ creativity, Ms. Wayne implements a teaching philosophy that centers art and exploration:

“I try to provide a creative, safe, and compassionate environment. I trust what my students can do. There are no mistakes, only learning.”

Her philosophy and work with students inspire faculty and administrators in her school and beyond to emulate her approach to art-centered lessons. Partnering across schools, Ms. Wayne collaborated with the music teacher at STEAM/Northside to have students create a “Musicscape” in the school garden. Using clay and a variety of design techniques, Ms. Wayne helped students create mobiles that were hung in and around the garden. The beautiful sounds were heard by everyone in the school and neighborhood and inspired Carpenter Elementary administrators to replicate the project at their school.

During the 2020-21 school year, as teachers everywhere looked for innovative ways to build community over screens, Ms. Wayne continually created intricate, exciting, and engaging ways for students to connect through art. When the annual fifth grade trip to Space Camp was canceled due to COVID-19, Ms. Wayne facilitated the re-allocation of those funds towards a commemorative bench that she painted, incorporating a design from every student, and placed on the school playground.

Integrating the arts into the curriculum and building community with her students is Ms. Wayne’s life work.

Edmund Fitzgerald Project

Amongst her colleagues, Ms. Wayne is lauded for her Edmund Fitzgerald project, in which third-grade students researched the details of the ship The Edmund Fitzgerald; illustrated posters with diagrams, photographs, and information; painted pictures of the ship; and presented their work to the school and family community.

Ms. Wayne is a quintessential example of what Ann Arbor Public Schools strive for in educators.

“UMS is proud of its service to educators across Southeast Michigan who make arts-integrated learning a priority in the classroom,” said UMS Vice President of Education and Community Engagement Cayenne Harris. “We are thrilled that this year’s Educator of the Year distinction will go to Laura Wayne who truly exemplifies the spirit of the award.”

“We are thrilled to honor Laura with this well-deserved award! At the DTE Foundation, we are motivated by teachers like her who inspire our next generation of leaders,” said Lynette Dowler, president of the DTE Foundation. “Our goal is to expand educational opportunities across Michigan and encourage those who are on the ground making it happen. Through passionate teachers like Laura, we know that our future is bright as we lean into education to improve our future.”

Laura Wayne accepts DTE Educator of the Year Award

UMS and DTE Foundation surprised Laura Wayne with the Educator of The Year award at King Elementary School.

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Announcing the 2020 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year

UMS and the DTE Energy Foundation are pleased to honor Thurston High School English teacher Rachel Bomphray as the 2020 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year.

The award recognizes and celebrates educators who value the importance of arts education and create a culture for the arts to flourish in their school communities.

Ms. Bomphray has worked over the past four years to grow a poetry program at Thurston High School, organizing opportunities for her students to work with the University of Michigan on collaborative creating writing sessions. Using the creative arts as a catalyst, she organizes trips to the U-M campus where her students get to work on projects with U-M students, learn to attend performances with a critical eye, and imagine their future as college students.

Ms. Bomphray goes above and beyond her call of duty, not only helping her students learn writing skills but developing the whole person and widening their view of the world, themselves, and their place in it.

Bomphray was nominated through a public nomination process. As part of the award, UMS will provide complimentary tickets and transportation for Ms. Bomphray to bring one class to a UMS School Day Performance next season, when in-person performances and school field trips are expected to return, additional complimentary tickets to a mainstage UMS performance, and a $200 award honorarium. UMS will also work with Ms. Bomphray to bring a UMS touring artist to Thurston for a class visit or school assembly.

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Announcing the 2019 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year

UMS and the DTE Energy Foundation are pleased to honor Scarlett Middle School band teacher Caroline Fitzgerald as the 2019 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year!

The award recognizes and celebrates educators who value the importance of arts education and create a culture for the arts to flourish in their school communities. Ms. Fitzgerald’s focus on the arts has extended beyond her work in the music classroom with a passion that permeates throughout the entire school, the Ann Arbor Public School system, and the greater community. She demonstrates an incredible investment in her students and believes that through music she can support her students becoming confident, self-assured young adults. Her work at Scarlett highlights the important role of music instruction in supporting students’ overall engagement and academic success.

Ms. Fitzgerald was nominated through a public nomination process. As part of the award, UMS will provide complimentary tickets and transportation for Ms. Fitzgerald to bring one class to a UMS School Day Performance next season, additional complimentary tickets to a mainstage UMS performance, and a $200 award honorarium. UMS will also work with Ms. Fitzgerald to bring a UMS touring artist to Scarlett for a class visit or school assembly.

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Celebrating the 2018 DTE Educators of the Year

Yeal Rothfeld receives her award.

The University Musical Society (UMS) and the DTE Energy Foundation are pleased to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. High School Teacher Denise Allen and Thurston Elementary School Teacher Yael Rothfeld as the 2018 DTE Energy Foundation Educators of the Year.

The award recognizes and celebrates excellence in arts education, lifting up the importance of the arts as a way of teaching 21st-century knowledge and skills, including creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and familiarity with local and global cultures. The recipients were nominated through a public nomination process. The DTE Energy Foundation is sponsoring the awards as part of its annual grant support for UMS Youth Education Programs.

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A dance educator at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Detroit, Denise Allen is a noted champion for the inclusion of the “A for Arts” in STEAM. Ms. Allen runs one of the few performing arts programs that has remained within Detroit Public Schools throughout its years of emergency management and one of just a handful of dance programs offered for credit at high schools throughout Southeast Michigan. She organizes after-school rehearsals, special evening and weekend performances, and master classes with guest artists, as well as student fundraisers that provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills. Several of Ms. Allen’s students have gone on to study with professional dance companies, but the discipline, confidence, and focus instilled in learning the craft has also led her students to success in academics and other areas of life.

Ms. Allen’s commitment to inclusivity in her program is especially laudable. To allow any student who wishes to participate the opportunity to do so, she arranges transportation, provides healthy snacks, and purchases costumes and supplies for students who are in need. She also invites autistic students to her dance performances at no cost, encouraging the use of the movement, rhythm, and sound embedded in dance as both physical and communicative therapy. She has made a big difference in the lives of young male students, encouraging them to explore and enjoy their interest in dance and to enjoy it without fear of shame from their male peers.

Yael Rothfeld has been a vocal music educator at Thurston Elementary School in Ann Arbor for 15 years. Ms. Rothfeld works with students in Preschool through Fifth Grade, developing her curriculum in a way that demonstrates to her students the importance of music throughout the world, in her students’ own communities, and in the life of their school. She organizes regular performances for her students, giving them an opportunity to set and work toward specific goals, and to use music as a powerful tool to communicate around ideas and issues that are relevant to their everyday lives.

Ms. Rothfeld continuously develops new programs and ideas for her students so they can grow through hands-on experiences with different instruments and techniques. In 2015, she launched a successful fundraiser to purchase ukuleles — an instrument that lends itself particularly well to teaching melody, harmony, singing, improvising, and storytelling — for Thurston to add another layer of music to the school curriculum. She also leverages resources offered by regional arts organizations to further her own professional development, bringing new ideas and techniques back to her classroom and taking students out of the school to experience live performances by professional artists.

The DTE Energy Foundation is sponsoring the awards as part of its annual grant support to UMS Youth Education Programs.

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Celebrating the 2017 DTE Educators of the Year

DTE Educator of the Year Ward at Ypsilanti High School
Presenting one of the Awards at Ypsilanti High School. Photo by Jesse Meria.

We’re pleased to honor Beacon Day Treatment Center teacher Jill Ross and Ypsilanti Community High School teacher Lynne Settles as the 2017 DTE Energy Foundation Educators of the Year. The award recognizes and celebrates excellence in arts education, lifting up the importance of the arts as a way of teaching 21st-century knowledge and skills, including creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and familiarity with local and global cultures.

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Jill Ross teaches art at Beacon Day Treatment Center, a K-12 educational facility in Southgate that serves students who struggle with emotional impairments that limit their ability to function in a regular K-12 setting. Many of Jill’s students are working to overcome challenges related to homelessness, abuse, and abandonment. Using visual arts, drama, and movement exploration, she provides tactile experiences for her students to work with art materials and explore the different ways that their bodies can move. These experiences give her students — especially those who struggle verbally — an outlet for their feelings, allowing them to cope with and avoid depression and aggression.

Ypsilanti Community High School art teacher Lynne Settles incorporates visual and performing arts into her students’ curriculum in unique ways that inspire them to learn about their heritage and encourage them to make a meaningful and positive difference in their community. Lynne worked with her students to design and paint two community murals for downtown Ypsilanti that feature influential African-Americans and women who played a positive role in Ypsilanti’s history. Lynn also worked with her students to produce a special program that featured spoken word, song, drama, and dance inspired by African-American figures whose lives have affected the course of history in a positive way. Through these art projects, Lynn’s students connected with Ypsilanti community partners to explore and learn about their own community’s history and the positive impact African-Americans had in shaping Ypsilanti.

The DTE Energy Foundation is sponsoring the awards as part of its annual grant support to UMS Youth Education Programs.

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Celebrating the 2016 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year

We’re pleased to honor Ann Arbor Public Schools teacher Beth McNally as the 2016 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year and Ann Arbor Public School Allen Elementary as the 2016 DTE Energy Foundation School of the Year. The awards honors excellence in K-12 arts education.

Beth McNally is honored as the DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year for her passionate commitment to integrating the arts into the core curriculum of Wines Elementary School in Ann Arbor. McNally is especially praised for her exceptional use of arts-integration through her concert performance program, which comprises popular and classic songs, each selected and arranged to reflect the curricular topics of the students’ respective grade levels.

Allen Elementary has become a model among its peers in the integration of arts into the curriculum, in large part because of the collaborative nature of its art and music teachers, Deb Campbell and Kimberly Coulson-Mobley. Campbell and Coulson-Mobley work consistently with the school’s classroom teachers to incorporate the arts with the students’ daily academic curriculum.

Beth McNally and Allen Elemenary were nominated through a public nomination process and will be honored at UMS’s Ovation gala, on Saturday, May 14 at the Crisler Arena Hall of Honors (333 E Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, MI 48109).

DTE Energy Foundation sponsors this award as part of a $50,000 grant to UMS Youth Education Programs.

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