Clawson Public Schools announces its Teachers of the Year

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published April 9, 2019








CLAWSON — Clawson Public Schools annually selects three educators — one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels — who were nominated by their colleagues as Teachers of the Year.

This year, Lori Karam is the Clawson Elementary School Teacher of the Year, Jill Gordon is the Clawson Middle School Teacher of the Year, and Megan Homanick is the Clawson High School Teacher of the Year.

Elementary school level

Karam, who has been teaching in Clawson for 24 years, is a kindergarten teacher at Kenwood Elementary School. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in early childhood education from Wayne State University.

In their nomination, colleagues Morgan Cebelak, Jodi Solomon and Christine Wade praised Karam for her passion for learning and for encouraging her students to drive their learning by allowing them to have a voice.

“Lori is the queen of goal-setting with her young learners. She helps her students set goals for themselves in reading and writing,” they wrote in their nomination. “In their small groups, she helps them achieve these goals by teaching them strategies to deepen their understanding and become consistent in using their skills.”

Karam is known for her leadership in early childhood education and her mentorship to new teachers, and she has presented at district-level professional development conferences, according to a Clawson Public Schools press release.

Understanding the importance of technology in learning, she has written grants for her students to use new technologies, according to the press release.

Former student Caroline Wyckoff said her favorite memory from her kindergarten class was “Kindergarten Marketplace,” where students learned about supply and demand and then created products to sell to family and friends.

“We sold jewelry and toys, and I was one of the cafe owners,” Wyckoff said in a statement. “My friends and I made cupcakes and smoothies, and they were really good. We sold a lot because demand was so high.”

Middle school level

Gordon, who has been teaching in Clawson for 29 years, is a sixth-grade math teacher at Clawson Middle School. She has a bachelor’s degree with a major in science and math from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in curriculum instruction and leadership from Oakland University.

“If you look at how she conducts her classes, it is a great combination of rigorous instruction and a fun-loving, welcoming environment,” colleague Jim Sparks wrote in his nomination of Gordon.

Gordon attended the Space Camp teacher program in Huntsville, Alabama, and later organized trips for Clawson middle schoolers to attend Space Camp. When she began teaching at Clawson Middle School, she also took on the coaching position for girls basketball, volleyball and track, according to the press release.

Karen Abdella, a parent in the district, said her children loved Gordon’s class because she makes learning fun.

“Mrs. Gordon is always smiling, positive and happy,” Abdella said in a prepared statement. “She allows students to work independently, with partners and in small groups to better understand math problems. She teaches multiple ways to approach a problem, which in turn helps to deepen student understanding.”

Gordon has worked as a consultant at Oakland Schools to facilitate math curriculums with other math educators in the county and she has participated in several professional learning groups at Oakland Schools to enhance math instruction in her classroom, according to the press release.

High school level

Homanick, who has taught in Clawson for 11 years, serves as the Clawson High School art and yearbook teacher and the junior class adviser. She also runs the art club and the garden club and is co-editor of the district’s Clawson Connection newspaper.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in art education from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in library science from Wayne State University.

“Ms. Homanick is a teacher who leads by example through her tenacious work ethic, quality teaching and commitment to student learning and success,” colleague Janice Beavers wrote in her nomination of Homanick.

Homanick’s students create website portfolios of their artwork instead of taking standard exams, and her integration of technology in the classroom gives students extensive and diverse artistic opportunities unique to Clawson, according to the press release.

Jillian Dein, a senior at Clawson High School, described Homanick as not only an amazing teacher, but also “everyone’s support system, mom and No. 1 fan.”

“She has rallied the school together, embraced everyone’s differences and spread love through every single student,” Dein said in a statement.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.