Local teacher tops in county

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 1, 2016

 Stephanie Dzubak

Stephanie Dzubak

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Although she feels like teaching runs in her blood, Stephanie Dzubak said she was still quite surprised to be named the Teacher of the Year at the middle school level by the Macomb County Association of School Administrators and the Macomb Association of Curriculum Administrators. 

“When you think of how many awesome teachers there are, and then to be selected as one ... it came as a shock,” said Dzubak, who teaches science to seventh- and eighth-graders at Jefferson Middle School in Lakeview Public Schools. “There’s so many awesome teachers out there. You collaborate with them and then, to get selected ... it’s a high honor, and I feel as though I could always improve.”

The two associations have honored elementary, middle and high school teachers at all districts in Macomb County for 30 years. Other teachers from St. Clair Shores being recognized at an April 21 event at the Macomb Intermediate School District are: Kimberly DeSandre, who teaches at Kennedy Middle School in Lake Shore; Suzanne Fowler, Violet Elementary in Lake Shore; Christopher Mazzola, Lake Shore High School; Ashley Bodinus, Harmon Elementary in Lakeview; Benjamin Haberek, Lakeview High School; Shonta Franklin, the Koepsell Education Center in South Lake; Angela Principato, South Lake High School; and Kathy Tisdale, South Lake Middle School.

But from a group of 63 teachers nominated at the district level, only three are chosen as Top Educators in Macomb County. Along with Dzubak at the middle school level, Stacy Cronin won at the elementary level for her work in Center Line Public Schools, and Jennifer Crotty won at the high school level from Fitzgerald Public Schools. 

Dzubak said her school principal, David Lavender, along with a parent at the school and one of her students helped with the application, and other staff members were able to provide input as well. 

Lavender said that Dzubak’s systems and routines help students stay organized and be responsible. 

“Mrs. Dzubak’s calm, caring personality helps build student connections, allowing her to set high expectations while providing supports to help students be successful,” he said in an email message. “Students use technology often, and she implements varied activities to connect students to the content.

“She is one of our best.”

Dzubak has taught in Lakeview for all of her 14 years as a teacher: the first six at Greenwood Elementary and the past eight at Jefferson Middle School.

But with her mother and sisters all teachers as well, she said she feels like she’s been a teacher for much longer.

“I can remember going to my mom’s classroom when I was little and giving a spelling test,” she said. “I feel like teaching is in my blood.”

Dzubak lives in St. Clair Shores with her husband, Steven, and two daughters: 3-year-old Piper and Allison, who is a second-grader at Greenwood Elementary.

She said it’s important to her to make a connection with students in and outside of the classroom. She also participates in many committees outside of school, including being part of the bargaining team for the Lakeview teachers union and taking an active role in the Positive Behavior Intervention Committee. 

She said she also has “an awesome teaching partner, Heather Schulz,” and likes to use a blended approach when it comes to technology in the classroom to make sure students are excited to be in class.

“Just using technology to help enhance the science curriculum as well,” she said, explaining that they are in the process of transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards just adopted by the state. “The expectations from the kids are elevated. It’s getting the kids to think deeper and further.”

Lakeview Superintendent Karl Paulson said that teachers, principals and central staff vote electronically to pick the local elementary, middle and high school teachers of the year. The local winners then submit applications to the county, which are reviewed by a selection committee that does not involve anyone from Lakeview to pick the county winners. 

He said Dzubak is very deserving of the honor.

“Mrs. Dzubak models the kind of knowledgeable, creative and steady teacher leadership we need in our classrooms today,” he said in an email message. “While we knew what she has done routinely for years, I am proud the county selection committee also recognized her value to Lakeview’s kids by honoring her as county teacher of the year.”