Martell kindergarten teacher named tops in school district

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published March 6, 2013

Martell Elementary School kindergarten teacher Laurie Pickell was focused on the letter “O” with her students the morning of Feb. 28.

So it was natural that she stayed on task and said, “Oh boy,” when an entourage of educators from the Troy School District, parents and members of the media trouped into her classroom to surprise her and present her with the award for Outstanding Teacher of the Year. “I’m overwhelmed,” she said. “That’s an ‘O’ word.”

“We’re very, very proud of you,” said Tony Lucchi, president of the Troy Education Association. A panel of teachers selects a winner from parent and student nominations at each level — elementary, middle and high school — and the Outstanding Teacher overall.

Pickell was nominated by two parents who praised her energy, ability to connect with students and willingness to go above and beyond to ensure that her students excel.

“Mrs. Pickell is full of energy and makes learning fun for the kids,” said Martell parent Jinah Kim in her nomination.

“My son is currently reading second-grade-level books, and with the continual instruction, motivational support and help from Mrs. Pickell, every student will be ready for reading when they enter first grade next year,” Martell parent Antoinette McCarty said in her nomination.

Pickell was named Elementary Teacher of the Year, in addition to the award for Outstanding Teacher of the Year. This is Pickell’s first year teaching at Martell. She has taught special education, second grade and kindergarten in the Troy School District since 1985. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in special education from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s in teaching from Oakland University.

\As the overall winner, she wins a free one-year lease of the car of her choice donated by the Suburban Collection. David Fischer Jr., general manager of the Suburban Collection, said the company has offered the free leases to winning teachers in the Troy School District for about six years. The Troy School District will nominate Pickell for consideration in the Oakland Schools Teacher of the Year program.

Pickell said she knew she wanted to teach, after special education students inspired her when she was a junior in high school.

“I love having the first chance, after the family, to help the children grow,” she said of teaching kindergarten. “To teach them to read — that’s really phenomenal.”