Royal Oak Schools announces Teachers of the Year

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 26, 2019

 From left, Keller Elementary School Principal Marcie Dryden, Royal Oak Schools 2019 Elementary School Teacher of the Year Kara Daunt and Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick pose for a photo at Keller Elementary School.

From left, Keller Elementary School Principal Marcie Dryden, Royal Oak Schools 2019 Elementary School Teacher of the Year Kara Daunt and Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick pose for a photo at Keller Elementary School.

Photo provided by Sarah Hunton

 From left, Fitzpatrick, Royal Oak Middle School Teacher of the Year Karina Landis and Royal Oak Middle School Principal Todd Noonan take a picture at Royal Oak Middle School.

From left, Fitzpatrick, Royal Oak Middle School Teacher of the Year Karina Landis and Royal Oak Middle School Principal Todd Noonan take a picture at Royal Oak Middle School.

Photos provided by Sarah Hunton

 From left, Royal Oak High School Principal Michael Giromini, Royal Oak High School Teacher of the Year Elizabeth Cusick and Fitzpatrick celebrate at Royal Oak High School.

From left, Royal Oak High School Principal Michael Giromini, Royal Oak High School Teacher of the Year Elizabeth Cusick and Fitzpatrick celebrate at Royal Oak High School.

Photo provided by Sarah Hunton

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ROYAL OAK — On Feb. 20, Royal Oak Schools announced its 2019 Teachers of the Year, who were nominated by their peers for their outstanding work.

Kara Daunt, of Keller Elementary, is the 2019 Elementary School Teacher of the Year; Karina Landis is the Royal Oak Middle School Teacher of the Year; and Elizabeth Cusick is the Royal Oak High School Teacher of the Year.

The three honorees will go on to be nominees for the Oakland Schools Teacher of the Year awards, which will be announced in late March, and they also will be honored at an event hosted by the intermediate school district in May.

Royal Oak Schools’ six elementary school principals discussed which teachers they would like to nominate and together worked through who had the best nominee.

At the middle school and high school, administrators solicit nominations from staff in December, then former Teachers of the Year meet in January to decide who should be the nominee from each respective school.

Daunt, the International Baccalaureate coordinator and response to intervention teacher at Keller Elementary, has been teaching in the district for 17 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in brain research from Nova Southeastern University.

Keller Elementary Principal Marcie Dryden wrote in her nomination application that Daunt has made an impact at the school, especially as the IB coordinator.

“She is constantly working with students, staff and parents to make Keller and our community a better place,” Dryden said in a statement. “She is sought out before school, during lunch and after school by colleagues as they collaborate on behavior issues, lessons and school projects.”

Landis, the sixth-grade math teacher and English-learning coordinator at Royal Oak Middle School, has been teaching in the district for more than 15 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics/philosophy from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in teaching from Wayne State University.

Royal Oak Middle School Assistant Principal Dan Colligan said she gets to know her students, especially English-learning students, to better connect them to the content of the class.

“Ms. Landis makes every student feel comfortable in the classroom,” Colligan said in a statement. “She is comfortable being herself in the room and creates the condition for each student to bring their identity into the classroom. Ms. Landis leads by example by always showing respect for her students and creating safe spaces for students to learn.”

Cusick, a French and science teacher who holds a bachelor’s degree in biological science and a master’s degree in education technology, has been teaching at Royal Oak High School for five years. She also is the district’s science curriculum lead for sixth through 12th grade and is the cosponsor of the National Honor Society.

“Through her involvement in NHS, Elizabeth oversees and encourages students’ efforts in philanthropy and character development,” Royal Oak High School Principal Michael    said in a statement. “This group has become an active tutoring program within our school, offering open-door peer academic support, filling a need in our community and connecting students with one another.”

The names of the Royal Oak 2019 Teachers of the Year will be engraved on a plaque that hangs in the district’s administration office, which includes the winners of past years.

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