Stoney Creek High educator named Michigan’s Teacher of the Year

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 15, 2019

 Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles surprised Stoney  Creek High School teacher Cara Lougheed during an all-school  assembly with the 2019-20 Michigan Teacher of the Year award  from the Michigan Department of Education.

Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles surprised Stoney Creek High School teacher Cara Lougheed during an all-school assembly with the 2019-20 Michigan Teacher of the Year award from the Michigan Department of Education.

Photo provided by Rochester Community Schools

Advertisement

ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — For Cara Lougheed, teaching isn’t just a profession — it’s always been a part of who she is.

“Being a teacher is all I ever wanted to be,” said Lougheed, who has been an educator in the Rochester Community Schools district for over two decades.

She’s so good at what she does that the Michigan Department of Education recently named the Stoney Creek High School teacher the 2019-20 Teacher of the Year for the state of Michigan.

A humbled and emotional Lougheed accepted the award during a surprise all-school assembly at Stoney Creek High School May 9.

Cheers of joy erupted from the student body as interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles applauded Lougheed’s “incredible ability to forge meaningful relationships with those around her.”

“She is an inspirational educator who truly embodies what it means to put students first,” Alles said.

Lougheed’s parents, Larry and Carolyn Hice, said their daughter has been teaching her whole life.

As a preschooler, while other children were playing with dolls or cars, Lougheed was happily commanding her own class. It didn’t matter if the students were fellow preschool classmates, younger siblings or a well-loved collection of stuffed animals.

“She’s always been a teacher,” said Carolyn Hice. “When she started preschool, she brought home extra workbooks, and (when her friends came over), they didn’t play with dolls. She sat them down and made them play school.”

At the age of 7, Lougheed began teaching her younger brother, Jim, how to read, and as she embarked on her high school and college years, educating others had fully blossomed into a passion.

“I played school as a kid, but as I got older, I think I really started to realize what teaching is, how important it is … and that I have a calling,” Lougheed said.

After graduating from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, Lougheed was encouraged by her father to spread her wings a little and enjoy some time away from the classroom.

“When she graduated from college, I thought she might want to take a few months and go do something fun, like work with a travel company, so I tried to convince her,” Larry Hice said. “Finally, she got tired of me yacking at her and she said … ‘Dad, let me be a teacher.’”

Anxious to put her degree to work, Lougheed began her career in education at Rochester High School in 1998.

Today she’s an English and history teacher at Stoney Creek High School — where she and her husband, Aaron, were among the first teachers to instruct students when the school opened in 2001.

Stoney Creek High School Principal Cathryn Skedel said Lougheed’s “passion, confidence, work ethic and advocacy for public schools, teachers and students” are what make her an excellent educator.

“We are just so proud of her,” she said.

In Lougheed’s eyes, a teacher must work hard and truly have a love for kids in order to be successful.

“I want (my students) to know that I see them, I hear them and I like them,” she said. “A lot of people forget that if you’re going to be a teacher, you actually have to like kids, and I legitimately like teaching kids.”

An effective teacher, she said, also reaches beyond simply instructing students on the required curriculum.

“I also want them to know that ... we can also learn how to be good humans — how to be respectful, have a voice, and how to speak up when someone is doing something you don’t like,” she said. “I hope that they know they can count on me.”

As MDE Teacher of the Year, Lougheed will represent more than 90,000 Michigan teachers and will serve on the Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council, where she can advocate for students  and influence education policies and initiatives statewide.

“Hopefully, it means that I can represent my friends and teachers across the state and lift up their voices,” Lougheed said. “I hope that I can encourage more people to be teachers. I want to uplift the profession.”

Advertisement