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 Michelle Morden stands by a vehicle from The Suburban Collection. She will get to choose which vehicle she wants from a select number at the dealership.

Michelle Morden stands by a vehicle from The Suburban Collection. She will get to choose which vehicle she wants from a select number at the dealership.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Ferndale Middle School Teacher of the Year wins 2-year vehicle lease

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 22, 2020

 Ferndale Middle School teacher Michelle Morden, middle, reacts with surprise to her name  being called as the winner of a two-year vehicle lease from The Suburban Collection June 11.  Ferndale’s other Teachers of the Year, Jodi Prince, left, and Amanda Goodson, right,  were excited to see Morden win.

Ferndale Middle School teacher Michelle Morden, middle, reacts with surprise to her name being called as the winner of a two-year vehicle lease from The Suburban Collection June 11. Ferndale’s other Teachers of the Year, Jodi Prince, left, and Amanda Goodson, right, were excited to see Morden win.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ERNDALE — A Teacher of the Year in the Ferndale Public Schools was awarded a multiyear vehicle lease from the Suburban Collection.

On June 11, Ferndale Public Schools officials brought together — in a socially distanced manner — their three Teachers of the Year in the district: Jodi Prince, Michelle Morden and Amanda Goodson. Prince was named Teacher of the Year for the district’s elementary schools, Morden for the middle school and Goodson for its high schools.

Each year, the Teachers of the Year come together and participate in a raffle with the Suburban Collection, in which one of the honorees receives a prepaid two-year lease on one of the Suburban Collection’s vehicles. The collection has been giving away leases to local teachers for the last 18 years.

With all three teachers standing in front of one of the collection’s vehicles, a representative pulled one of their names out of a hat. That teacher was Morden, a sixth grade science teacher at Ferndale Middle School. She also teaches AVID, a college prep class for eighth graders.

Morden said she was a bit nervous when she saw the hand go into the hat to pull the name, but was very happy to hear her name called as the recipient of the vehicle. Morden will now get to go to the collection to test drive some of the vehicles before making her selection.

“I was just so excited and thrilled — shocked really that my name was pulled,” she said.

Jonathan Smith, a sales specialist for the Suburban Collection, said the company also will make sure that Morden will have enough oil changes to cover her lease, and that all she has to worry about is insurance and gas.

“This year has obviously been harder on the teachers and, being a parent myself, I think there’s a lot more genuine respect for teachers than there was six months ago, at least from me,” he said. “This is my fourth year being a part of this, and it gets better and better each year.”

While they weren’t winners of the lease, both Goodson and Prince were ecstatic to learn Morden had won. Goodson, an English teacher for 10th, 11th and 12th graders at University High School, said she was very surprised to find out that she was a Teacher of the Year. She credits that to the work of her fellow teachers.

“My coworkers had to trick me in order to keep me from knowing and created kind of a fake scenario where we socially distanced at my house as the superintendent drove up to my house on a rainy day,” she said. “I felt like this was definitely an interesting year to win it, because if there’s any time to have tenacity and be flexible and all those things, it was this year. I think this was my ninth or 10th year, so it was definitely really cool to be recognized during all this.”

Prince, a third grade teacher at Ferndale Upper Elementary School, just recently completed her 20th year of teaching. She also was shocked to learn she was being honored.

“It’s really, really amazing to not only hear other students and parents remembering the work that you’ve done over the years, but also the idea that someone even nominated you for this is very, very just touching,” she said. (It’s) emotional for us to be in this career at this time, so it felt amazing. I was very proud of myself.”

Morden said she’s known about the Teacher of the Year award since she arrived in Ferndale around five years ago, and in that time she’s gotten to know some of the past recipients and see how highly respected they were.

“When I was nominated and then awarded, I was just shocked because I am among some amazing teachers, and I swear any one of my colleagues could’ve been Teacher of the Year,” she said. “I’m just really excited for this.”

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