Watch the Film!


Take a look at the inspiring documentary “The LifeChangers: A Tale of Two Educators.” The short film follows a day in the life of Detroit Public Schools Community District teacher Michele Pizzo and Eastern Michigan University professor Lolita Cummings.
 
Both teachers have had a profound impact on their students and institutions, and we’re pleased to share their stories.


Meet the ‘LifeChangers’

Michele Pizzo

Michele Pizzo is a 26-year teaching veteran and was a 2019-20 Michigan Regional Teacher of the Year. She has spent the majority of her career at Detroit’s Davison Elementary-Middle School. She taught fourth grade at Davison for 20 years and is currently a seventh-grade English Language Arts teacher.
 
She has also served as a grade level chair, data specialist and collaborated with colleagues to write the school improvement plan. In addition, Michele is the district and school-wide spelling bee coordinator, preparing champions to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
 
An ardent community advocate, Michele is passionate about bridging the school-home gap and its positive impact on student success. She is currently a lead coordinating teacher for the Detroit Public Schools Community District’s Parent Teacher Home Visit Program. The innovative program is part of a $3 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and aims to build a better connection with families. Pre-COVID, Michele volunteered her afternoons and weekends over the past several years to conduct regular home visits. She turned the experience into a leadership opportunity, training fellow teachers in a protocol for visiting their students’ homes.

Lolita Cummings

Lolita Cummings is one of Eastern Michigan University’s more popular professors. After coming to EMU in 1994 as an assistant professor of public relations, Lolita poured her vast energy into the job, leading her to tenure and the title of associate professor in 1998. She was promoted to full professor in 2003.
 
Since first arriving at EMU, Lolita has distinguished herself while speaking at academic and professional conferences, publishing in academic and professional journals and teaching for two different EMU colleges (Arts and Sciences and Business). And, yet, through it all, she has kept her sights on what’s most important to her – EMU’s students.
 
After a series of racist incidents on campus, Lolita introduced random acts of kindness into her curriculum. Using the hashtags #campuskindness, #emusocialites and #eaglekindness on their social media platforms, her students have been able to help others and learn from one another through acts such as handing out gift cards, baking cupcakes and helping a new student who had broken his leg get around campus. Her students then write about the experience for class and continue to pay it forward.

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