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.
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.
Celebrating the 2017 DTE Educators of the Year
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.
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.
A Chat with Deb Clancy, UMS’s DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year
As the former Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) Liaison to our UMS Youth Education Program, Deb Clancy has been a model steward, partner, and leader. Along with her “bend-over-backwards” brand of support, she provided insightful counsel when making programmatic and strategic decisions. Though Deb transitioned roles within WISD this season and is no longer the UMS liaison, her spirit of helpfulness and the support beams of her contributions remain embedded in our program and in our partnership with WISD.
Omari Rush, UMS’s Youth Education Manager, caught up with Deb recently to talk about arts education and how the schools are adapting to their new realities.
OR: You’ve worked with UMS for five years as the WISD liaison to the Youth Education Program. What did you particularly enjoy about this partnership?
DC: I really admire and commend UMS’s commitment to offering diverse programming across the spectrum of the arts: both to K-12 students and to educators in southeast Michigan. Its willingness to leverage boundary-spanning partnerships to realize creative projects for school communities is a model for what all educators will have to do in the coming years. As funding sources become less obvious, we’ll all need to work harder to find the opportunities in partnerships to secure additional support or funding for education-related endeavors.
OR: Tell us what pressing academic issues are facing the schools now.
DV: At the county level our focuses are on, of course, math and literacy, along with other areas such as early childhood education and personalized learning. While data from the MEAP testing show increases in student achievement in reading and math, we’re still working on closing achievement gaps between students of different socio-economic levels and between students of different ethnicities. The arts are certainly a factor in achieving these goals. Through our partnership with UMS we’ve been able to bring teaching artists to the area that provide our teachers with an array of creative strategies that help us improve student success and reach students as individual and unique learners. One example of an arts-infused workshop this year was “Math + Dance: Exploring Sequence and Combinations.”
OR: What do you see as the biggest opportunities in education?
DC: The national conversation in education is about 21st century skills; those essential skills that our children need to succeed as citizens and workers in the 21st century. Re-thinking content delivery so that learning goes beyond the traditional school walls and beyond the traditional school textbook is one area of opportunity for the general education community. The opportunity for the arts is to identify meaningful and proven methods for fitting into this framework. While we know that an arts-infused education is closely linked to student achievement, development, and engagement, there is ample opportunity to further refine and clarify these arts-related benefits and to create specific techniques for content delivery and integration.
OR: What would you like folks who don’t know UMS to understand about the program?
DC: UMS searches the world for renowned programs that focus on student involvement in the arts, programs that provide our students with academic and life skills; the programming really brings the arts to life for students of all ages. As a UMS teacher of the year shared three years ago, “UMS delivers the world, without you ever leaving the county.” I completely agree! Since 1990,UMS has touched and changed the lives of over two hundred thousand students through arts involvement. It’s really quite amazing!