Fraser announces Teachers of the Year

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published May 10, 2023







FRASER — On April 18, Fraser Public Schools announced the winners of its annual Teacher of the Year awards.

One teacher from the elementary, middle and high school level is selected each year based on their performance, passion and impact performed as an educator. This year’s selectees were Elizabeth Schmidt, Wendy Jo Murray and Leesa Wright.

“It’s all done at the building level with each staff selecting their preferred teachers of the year,” said Superintendent Carrie Wozniak. “The past teachers of the year always seem to take an active role in selecting who comes next.”

Wozniak said that while many factors contribute to being good at what they do, the thing they look most for in Fraser is the ability to connect with students.

“I think it’s hard to pick just one teacher,” she said. “We try to celebrate them all during Teacher Appreciation Week, but we see again and again that those selected for Teacher of the Year are those who make a connection with their students on a really deep level. Students will share how those teachers affected them and that makes this very special. You always get a sense from our selectees that it’s not just about them knowing their content well but that they are able to inspire students and make a difference with them.”

Elizabeth Schmidt was the elementary level selectee for this year. She teaches fifth grade English language arts and science at Edison Elementary School. She said being chosen was a huge honor.

“It is surreal,” Schmidt said. “I was really excited and proud to be recognized for all the hard work I’ve done over the last 23 years. It’s tough sometimes, but this is the job I was meant for. It makes everything worth it. I wouldn’t be where I am without all of the people I have to support me.”

To her, the key to being a good teacher is always striving to do better and go the extra mile.

“I am always looking to be better. I’ve been doing this a long time and I am always looking for ways to improve my classroom and help my fellow teachers, whether in their classrooms or as part of the union,” said Schmidt. “I am in it for the long run.”

Schmidt added that she is glad to work in a school district like Fraser.

“I am so grateful to be in Fraser and have the support system that I have. Even though it sometimes feels like my work goes unnoticed, it is recognized in ways that I haven’t always realized,” she said. “I am a teacher in Fraser even though I don’t live in Fraser and I bring my kids to learn in Fraser through School(s) of Choice so I think that shows what kind of district I work in.”

Wendy Jo Murray was the middle school level winner and is the yearbook and technology teacher at Richards Middle School.

Murray did not respond to requests for comment prior to press time.

Leesa Wright was the high school level winner for 2023. She has taught French for three years at Fraser’s middle schools and at Fraser High School for 27 years following two years teaching in Warren Consolidated Schools. She also is a Fraser High School alumnus.

“I was born in Scotland and attended Fraser High School from the 10th to 12th grade,” said Wright. “I was very honored and surprised by being chosen for this. There are a lot of good teachers in our district so it was very nice to be singled out.”

She said to be a good teacher, someone needs to enjoy connecting with their students and have a love for what they are teaching.

“My passion for my students and subject. I always enjoyed teaching French and I love getting to share that with my students,” Wright said. “(You need) a level of engagement with the students. You need to meet them at the level they are at and then take them beyond that. Other than that, you need to love what you do and be passionate for your subject and for your students.”