Meet Meemic Foundation Influencer Michele Pizzo

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June 6, 2023

Michele Pizzo, a 30-year veteran of the Detroit Public Schools Community District and 2019-20 Michigan Regional Teacher of the Year, speaks with us about her experience in the schools and shares the educator-focused mission of The Meemic Foundation. In the video, she also talks about a couple upcoming events.

You can also learn more about Michele and her groundbreaking work in our documentary, “The LifeChangers.”
What is your teaching experience?
I have been a teacher in Detroit Public Schools Community District for 30 years. I started at Davison Elementary Middle School and have been there my entire career. I taught fourth grade for 20 years and then moved to the middle school building with my seventh-graders.
What was the biggest change in your classroom from when you first started teaching?
The biggest change is the shift from traditional teaching to student led. Teachers are now just facilitators. Now, our students are taught to take ownership of their learning – to be accountable by using their own data that they collect throughout the school year. There is much more collaboration and small group work that is led by the students. 
What are the most important things that your students have taught you?
My students have taught me that they want me to listen, not judge and be their friend. It used to be that teachers were told not to be friends with the children. I have learned that it is the greatest gift to be able to have a close bond with my students. We appreciate and love each other. We accept differences and we talk openly about anything they want to discuss. This is the key to harmony in the classroom.  Students need to be respected and loved, too.
What is your favorite story/event (or two) from teaching?
My favorite event would have to be taking my student to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington. We were the first teacher and student from DPSCD to attend. It was such an awesome experience. From beginning to end, we had the support of our school, entire district and the community. The event and love that poured out really brought everyone together. It is something I will never forget.
What are your words of advice for teachers (rookies or veterans)?
My words of advice for other teachers whether they are rookies or veterans are to be invested in your students – all of them. It's OK to be their friend. A friend is someone whom we connect with and who is there for us. You share a bond with friends. You share common beliefs and values with your friends. Most importantly, a friend is someone you trust and enjoy being around. Once you let your students know that you want to be their friend, things change. Just like any relationship, you need to be able to trust your partner. Your students will love it and will respond so positively. They, in turn, will want to be loyal to you. It really is that simple. Smile a lot, talk, laugh and get on their level. They will appreciate it more than you will ever know.
What do you hope to accomplish working with The Meemic Foundation?
The most important thing I'd like to accomplish working with The Meemic Foundation is to help people understand exactly what the Foundation is and how beneficial it is to educators. Like so many, I, too, thought of the insurance company when I heard Meemic. I want to help my fellow educators learn that the foundation is much more than that. It stands for educators, values them, appreciates them and gives back to them in so many ways. I want to spread the word about the website and the ease of registering and becoming a member. I want my fellow colleagues to see the articles, videos, giveaways and the activities that the Foundation provides to lift, honor and celebrate educators. My hopes are that the word will spread and that Meemic will become a household name for teachers. Teachers are the most selfless people who have the toughest job in the world. I'd love to put The Meemic Foundation on the map so educators can pop into the Foundation website at any time, see a site that is dedicated to them and feel that love that they so deserve.