Troy, Mich.— Three outstanding Troy School District teachers were surprised in their classrooms today with the news that they had been selected as Teachers of the Year out of 44 nominations received.

AMANDA FISHER, English Language Arts Teacher and Literacy Coach at Larson Middle School, was named TSD Middle School Teacher of the Year. Ms. Fisher was nominated by a student and her colleagues, who say that she betters the lives of everyone she encounters. Parent Carmen Kile says that Fisher has opened her daughter’s eyes to a world of literature, “She sparks a flame in her and peaks her interest into genres, ideas, projects, even relationships that maybe she would normally shy away from. I think it is just her apparent kind and easy going, easy to talk to nature.” Her daughter Chloe Herpel agrees, saying, “Mrs. Fisher does something called a book buzz Friday, which is when she talks about these inspiring Troybery books that she knows we will all love.” Assistant Principal David Recker says that Amanda always has time to share with students, parents and other staff, “Amanda is always smiling, and she is always giving—whether it be her immense knowledge, a listening ear, or donuts to the staff on Fridays” And it’s that listening ear that colleague Cindy Christiansen says many students turn to her for, “It’s not unusual to find students filling her room before school and during lunch. They need her to listen and help them with their problems. Her students, both current and past, visit frequently just to share what’s going on in their lives.” For more on why her students and colleagues say she is so special, see this short video:

To celebrate this recognition, as her daughters and colleagues looked on today, Ms. Fisher was presented with a $500 check from the Troy Foundation for Educational Excellence.

CAROLYN MAHER, Kindergarten Teacher at Wass Elementary School was named TSD Elementary Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Maher was nominated by a parent, who says that the experiences she provides for her students in the classroom every day will never be forgotten. “When a person loves his or her job so much it will transcend beyond its boundaries, beyond the four walls of a classroom, beyond her profession, says parent Bernadette Manaay, “It will have a great impact to somebody’s life.” Principal Matt Jansen agrees, saying, “The children that Carolyn works with know her and LOVE her. Carolyn works hard to make connections with students and see them as the unique individuals that they are. She treats the children with respect and as a result is treated respectfully by them. I have observed Carolyn go above and beyond for many kids by making accommodations in her room to truly differentiate her instruction to meet specific and unique student designs and needs.” Student Ianna Bernice Manaay sums it up simply by saying, “Mrs. Maher is the bestest teacher in the whole world! I look forward to seeing her every day in school.” For more on why her students and colleagues say she is so special, see this short video:

To celebrate this recognition, as her family and colleagues looked on today, Mrs. Maher was presented with a $500 check from the Troy Foundation for Educational Excellence.

JEFF RAINWATER, Social Studies and English Teacher at Troy College and Career High School was named TSD High School Teacher of the Year AND Overall TSD Teacher of the Year. Mr. Rainwater was nominated by multiple students, parents and staff, all praising his ability to connect with students. Parent Deanna Sage says, “He conquers so many obstacles that his students struggle with through his love and support of them. He makes them believers in themselves, and truly saves lives.” His students agree, “He was the first teacher I trusted to open up to,” says Maiya Miller, senior at TCCHS, “I ended up going to him just to talk. To this day, he is there for me when I am having a great day, feeling anxious, having a breakdown, and even when I want to give up. He motivates me to keep going by pointing out the good in me so I can see it as well. He gives me the most amazing advice that I take to heart or actually apply to my life. One of my favorite Rainwater mantras is “There are no problems, only solutions.” Dozens of his colleagues wrote similar sentiments in statements of support for his nomination because, as Principal Bill Turner says, Jeff does whatever it takes to connect with students and make them feel valuable, “Students look to him for direction, and graduates return over and over to share their adult lives with him. Just this past weekend, Jeff took three students who had never been to Frankenmuth, MI up to see the quaint town. On his own time, with no one watching or knowing, he drove them there, helped one student become a more confident driver so she could start driving for herself (she lost her mother to cancer freshmen year of high school, and her dad was just admitted to assisted living) and simply showed all of them how great life can be. Over the years, Jeff has helped to move and furnish at least three different student apartments, by finding household items and delivering them to students who were forced to make new living arrangements.” For more on why his students and colleagues say he is so special, see this short video:

Because he was also awarded the Overall Teacher of the Year, Mr. Rainwater also received a two-year vehicle lease, courtesy of the Suburban Collection. David Fischer from the Suburban Collection was on hand to present him with a car of him choice.

“Jeff, Carolyn and Amanda are incredible teachers because they take the time to connect with students on a deep level,” says Superintendent Richard Machesky, Ed. D. “That allows them to build the kind of relationships that make the difference when trying to engage students in the classroom and beyond. The impact they have on young learners, their colleagues and parents in our community is amazing. We are very fortunate to have them on our staff and are proud to have them represent the Troy School District as our Outstanding Teachers of the Year.”

Forty-one other outstanding TSD teachers were nominated by parents, students and colleagues. Each of them was singled out for the dedication and commitment they show every day for their profession. The other nominees, all of whom will be honored at a Board of Education meeting in April include:

Jenny Adelman (Baker Middle School)
Ruba Alexander (Troy Union Elementary School) 
Stephanie Alfoldy (Bemis Elementary School)
Carrie Lynn Asgarally (Bemis Elementary School)
Janine Bonhard (Bemis Elementary School)
Caitlin Bringardner (Bemis Elementary School)
Lauren Brown (Larson Middle School)
Sharon Callas (Costello Elementary School)
Kathy Cappuso (Larson Middle School)
Lisa Carruthers (Leonard Elementary School)
Harriet Clark (Troy High School)
Kris Cueter (Schroeder Elementary School)
Amy Dent (Athens High School)
Maura Donovan (Bemis Elementary School)
Michael (David) Egan (Larson Middle School)
Katherine Eve (Hill Elementary School)
Lauren Fragomeni (Wass Elementary School)
Melissa Geeraerts (Hamilton Elementary School)
Lorraine Hogan (Leonard Elementary School)
Gail Hosner (Troy High School)
Jessica Hughes (Baker Middle School)
Jessica Jones (Athens High School)
Lindsey Keegan (Schroeder Elementary School)
Takouhy Kinzer (Hamilton Elementary School)
Peter Majask (International Academy East)
Kelly Maldonado (Leonard Elementary School)
Lindsey Maliepaard (Costello Elementary School)
Debra Motherwell (Martell Elementary School)
Pam Mulligan (Hill Elementary School) 
Adam Pennewell (Hill Elementary School)
Rachel Peterson (Athens High School)
Joseph Schmidt (Baker Middle School)
Suzanne Siegel (Hamilton Elementary School)
Margaret Slankster (Troy High School)
Michelle Slaviero (Boulan Park Middle School)
Debbie Stacey (Schroeder Elementary School)
Katie Starn (Leonard Elementary School)
Michele Stevens (Troy Union Elementary School)
Joan Stratman (Troy High School)
Michael Thomas (Hamilton Elementary School)
Adrianna Zarewych (Hamilton Elementary School)

The three winning teachers have been sent to Oakland County for inclusion in the county-wide Teacher of the Year competition. Here is the link to photos of all the winners being surprised today in their schools:

Kerry Birmingham
Director of Communications & Strategic Initiatives
Troy School District