May 17, 2016
The new Michigan Teacher of the Year will be announced soon. It will the 10th MTOY award Meemic has sponsored, and we couldn’t be prouder. In celebration, we reached out to several past recipients, and a few took time from their busy end-of-year activities to let us know how the award affected them and what they’ve been up to since.
Robert L. Stephenson served for the 2009-10 school year.
It was honor to be named as the 2009-2010 Michigan Teacher of the Year and 2010 National Teacher of the Year Finalist. Serving as a voice for the great teachers in the state of Michigan, and advocating for their students, was immensely gratifying.
Throughout 2009-2010, I was able to connect with thousands of teachers around the state, meet routinely with legislators in Lansing, serve as a nonvoting member at the State Board of Education monthly meetings, present around the country on STEM education and take part in many professional learning opportunities, including beginning my doctoral program through Walden University.
By working with other National State Teachers of the Year, we were able to advise the United States Education Department, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the media on timely education issues, while keeping the students and their best interests in the forefront of every conversation. For me, the year was personally and professionally life changing.
Since being named the 2009-2010 MTOY, there have been a number of professional changes. Although my national consulting has continued, I worked two additional years as a third grade teacher for the Okemos Public Schools, loving every day with my students.
I then accepted an administrative position as the building principal at Donley Elementary in East Lansing Public Schools. My hope was to continue to broaden my advocacy for a larger number of students while serving as an instructional leader to a community of teachers. That, too, was highly rewarding.
At the same time, I took on a project with East Lansing PBS television station WKAR. Since 2013, I have been the author and host of “Curious Crew,” a children's television show whose mission is to get children excited about science discovery and serve as a resource for classroom teachers to support their science teaching. The program is now broadcast around the state of Michigan, has been nominated for two Emmys and received a national NETA Award for its community impact. We are currently beginning to film our third season, which is delightful.
Most recently in 2014, I was hired as the first STEM consultant at the Ingham Intermediate School District. I am now fortunate enough to support teachers throughout Ingham County by providing coaching and STEM education training. I feel as though the scope of my positive impact continues to grow, and I am truly grateful for the opportunities that the Michigan Teacher of the Year program presented.