Teachers make top grades as Teacher of the Year

By: Terry Oparka, | Troy Times | Published March 5, 2014

TROY — Jennifer Taylor, math teacher at Boulan Park Middle School, has worked at the same school for 28 years, and she would never consider teaching at another building.

“It’s like a family here,” she said. “My career in Troy, to me that’s been a gift. I love my job. I’m very passionate about what I do and making a difference in the lives of students,” Taylor said.

Taylor has won the Edyth Sliffe Outstanding Math Educator Award and sponsors the American Mathematics Competition, the Michigan Mathematics League Contest and the Purple Comet Math Contest at the school.

“I do those things because of the students I work with,” she said. “I’ve learned so much from other math teachers in the district,” she added.

“Jen spends hours planning interesting lessons that hook the kids’ interest and keeps them excited about math,” said Boulan Park teacher Jennifer Smith in her nomination. “Mathematics is not a favorite subject of all middle school children, and Jennifer makes it her goal to have all students grow mathematically and have fun while learning. Jennifer gets to know her students not only academically, but also as young adults. She is there for all of her students when they need a helping hand or need someone to listen to them.”

Boulan Park Principal Jo Kwansy agreed.

“Jennifer is committed to providing the most appropriate lessons to her students in Math,” said Kwasny in Taylor’s nomination. “Whether Honors Algebra 2, or Math 6, each student is provided a challenging and individualized curriculum based on their needs, abilities and personal learning styles.”

“Along with her great teaching ability, she is able to connect with both of my children and make it fun to learn,” parent Glen Campbell said in his nomination.

Taylor and Troy High physics teacher John Morrison were chosen as middle school Teacher of the Year and high school Teacher of the Year, respectively, for the Troy School District. The process involved parent and teacher nominations, and a panel of their peers.

In a supporting statement, Morrison’s student Alex Marshall described Morrison as one of the best teachers he had the pleasure of getting to know during his 13 years in the Troy School District.

“He blends fun with learning in such a way that I would have thought was impossible for an AP Physics C class,” Marshall stated. “He single-handedly turned the class I was dreading during the summer into a class that I looked forward to each day.”

“The assignments are difficult, but Morrison makes them interesting and relevant,” said Alex’s mother, Sheri Marshal, in her nomination statement. “He exudes enthusiasm with his signature ‘woo hoo’ that greets a student when they make a discovery or ask a good question,” she said. “He teaches the hardest course at Troy High — you would think that would drive students away. But Morrison has the opposite effect — he draws students in.”

Morrison serves as the Physics Club and Physics Olympiad advisor, and was awarded a Lemelson-MIT Innovation Grant.

Ransom Brown, physics teacher at Troy High, stated in his nomination that Morrison “supports the students of Troy on a daily basis, sponsoring three student organizations and opening his doors to students during his lunch and well after the school day ends. He mentors and builds connections with his students, along with students he may have in the future. It’s amazing to see John connect with the kids that he doesn’t even teach at the time, greeting them in the hall with a smile, a high five or even a juggling lesson.” 

Morrison could not be reached for comment.

The Troy School District will nominate Taylor and Morrison for consideration in Oakland Schools’ Teacher of the Year program.