Head Of The Class: Top Area Educators

. December 31, 2018.
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Rachel Bechard

Rachel Bechard
CCC-SLP

Speech Pathologist

Creating Brighter Futures

4201 Varsity Dr.
734-926-0740 | creatingbrighterfutures.com

What is unique about working at Creating Brighter Futures?
Creating Brighter Futures started out as an ABA center for children with autism. They have since expanded their services to include Speech and Language Therapy for child with any type of speech or language difficulties. Many of our children are at our center for ABA therapy for many hours during the week and, as the speech pathologist, I am able to collaborate with other therapists here in order to provide our children with success in all environments. This way, my clients get exposure to some of their speech targets throughout the entire day rather than just during their speech session. There is a great team dynamic here where we all want to work together to give our children the most well-rounded therapy experience possible.

What is the most rewarding part of being a speech pathologist?
When a child finally makes a breakthrough or when you see everything just “click”. It feels like all of the hard work that both the child and I put into it was worth it and it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the life of that child and their family.

What inspired you to become a speech pathologist?
I had a good friend growing up whose sister barely communicated and the limited speech she had was very difficult to understand. She went to speech therapy for some time and suddenly her speech was very clear and her vocabulary increased significantly. This was around the time that I was doing some soul searching to determine what I wanted to do with my life and I thought that it would be a great feeling to be able to do something like that for other children. I did some job shadowing and found that speech pathology was something I wanted to pursue.

What motivates you every day?
The chance to provide my clients with a voice.


Barbara Daniel

Barbara Daniel

Program Director

TLC Adventure Preschool

1400 W. Stadium Blvd.
734-662-4419 | trinityaa.org/preschool

What is unique about working at TLC Adventure Preschool?
TLC Adventure Preschool has a long history of over 50 years. The three teachers have been team teaching together for over fourteen years. Being a faith based school allows us the opportunity to easily introduce the important concepts of empathy, inclusion and values as they relate to each child’s developmental growth.

What is your favorite part of the school day?
My favorite part of the school day is greeting the children at the beginning of the day with the anticipation that each new school day offers a new learning adventure.

What motivates you every day?
Loving what I do by making a positive difference in the lives of children and working with committed experienced highly educated professional teachers that feel the same way.

What sets your school apart from other schools in the community?
TLC Adventure Preschool is exclusively an early childhood education center that provides both multiage and same age related small group learning opportunities for every child.


Susie Cho

Susie Cho

Lead Toddler Teacher

Go Like the Wind Montessori School

8845 Main St., Whitmore Lake
734-747-7422 | golikethewind.com

What is unique about working at Go Like The Wind Montessori School?
Our school is driven with love in mind, and the genuine care that comes from that mindset is evident within the administrators and fellow teachers. Love is boundless, so naturally it flows to the children and their families as well! There is a lot of support in words and actions, and the community strives to support one another. The Montessori work we do also becomes apparent in the children’s lifestyle and academic work.

What is the most rewarding part of being a teacher?
I feel rewarded simply by being able to be a part of the child’s life and seeing the gradual changes that occur in the process of guiding them toward each developmental stage. It’s truly an honor to witness these sensitive periods of development and to go through the milestones with them.

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I believe providing the right kind of education is the best thing we can offer to young generations so that each person can become contributing members of society. And it has to start at a young age, when the mind is still absorbent. I have always thought that advocating for it from the sidelines would be enough. But then, I realized that being on the front lines, in the classroom, is where I want to be. I started out as a traditional elementary school teacher and ended up being a lifelong follower of Maria Montessori’s method of education.

What is your favorite part of the school day?
I love walking down the hallway with a few of my children during the day. We get to greet other students and teachers in their classrooms or in the hallway with a smile, hello, and a wave as we pass by. The children follow our every move at such a young age, and this simple act of kindness and love is one of the best things to replicate.


Wendy Kelley & Marciah Boerema

Wendy Kelley & Marciah Boerema

Co-Teachers, Preschool Classroom

Early Learning Center

3070 Redwood Ave.
734-973-7722 | elcpreschool.com

What is unique about working at The Early Learning Center?
Many people don’t realize we have been personal friends for over 25 years and we have been working together, in the same classroom, for 14 years. We also share the same educational background, philosophy and workstyle in the classroom while working and playing with the children. Our school and the teachers have been voted by parents for several years as Ann Arbor’s Favorite and best!

What is the most rewarding part of being a teacher?
It is very fulfilling to watch the children develop friendships and see them deepen throughout the school year. The children are learning social skills that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Some of these important skills are taking turns, developing empathy, resolving conflicts, and strengthening communication skills. We are there every day to support the children in these important areas.

What sets your school apart from other schools in the community?
The Early Learning Center is one of the few traditional half-day preschool programs in Ann Arbor that is not a daycare or a co-op. ELC is accredited by NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) and was established in 1975. ELC has been part of the Ann Arbor community for 43 years! We are seeing ELC graduates enrolling their children in the preschool they once attended!

What is your main goal for your school?
Our primary goal is for children to feel safe and secure and to build on social and emotional skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. We are here to help children grow and develop socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively. In our classrooms we strive to help young children play, learn, create, discover and pretend in a warm and nurturing developmentally appropriate environment.


Tracey Marchyok

Tracey Marchyok

Lead Guide

Acton Academy

Ann Arbor | 4115 Jackson Rd.
734-996-9959 | actonannarbor.com

What is unique about working at Acton Academy Ann Arbor?
We are self-paced, collaborative, joyful, and mixed-age. We face challenges with a hero’s mindset. We work toward “learning how to learn”. Our school encourages children to be curious and seek out what they don’t understand. Most importantly, by stepping out of their way, they take ownership of their own education. We also use nature’s systems to guide understanding.

What sets your school apart from other schools in the community?
Acton Ann Arbor is learner-driven. Each week, goals are set and updated. We commit to being on a hero’s journey and honor our studio contract. We use hero bucks as an accountability system. Students earn milestones and badges toward grade level completion. As a school, we collaborate and encourage
each other.

What was your school’s greatest accomplishment in 2018?
Our group wrote and performed a unique play teaching people about the value of small things. They called the play The Box Elder Play. It was written and performed at the Southeastern Michigan Stewardship Coalition’s (SEMIS) Community Forum, a showcase of student-organized projects.


Andrew Willing

Andrew Willing

Teacher, Seventh and Eighth Grade Social Studies

All Saints Catholic School Canton

48735 Warren Rd. | Canton, MI 48187
734-459-2490 | allsaintscs.com

What is unique about working at All Saints Catholic School?
All Saints Catholic School is a true community in every sense of the word. Parents, teachers and administrators collaborate to grow leaders strong in mind, body and spirit. At All Saints, teachers are empowered with a dynamic, faith-filled curriculum that inspires exciting learning across all grade levels. Every child deserves the highest quality educational formation, but All Saints Catholic School is unique in its capacity to support the academic, athletic, spiritual and service-learning growth of all children. Students and staff from all faith backgrounds are provided safe, nurturing opportunities to grow in faith, academics, and service to others. What more could we want for our young people?

Why did you become an educator?
I did not enter the teaching profession on the traditional path. After graduating from Aquinas College in 2008 I intended to pursue graduate school for Geography. In the short-term I began working as a substitute teacher for Grand Rapids Public Schools. Working with young people, I felt called by God to realize my true vocation: education. Inspired by some wonderful educator mentors, I returned to Aquinas College to begin my Master in Education coursework. It was revelatory, and I felt (and continue to feel everyday) that I have heard God’s call to serve others as a dedicated teacher.

And why did you decide to be a Catholic educator in particular?
Having received all of my formal education from Catholic learning institutions, in some small way I wanted to be a part of the
faith-filled academic landscape that prepared me. I want to be there for this generation of young people and support their growth as informed, critically-thinking disciples of Christ.

What motivates you every day?
My students. They are humorous, caring, intelligent, creative, faith-filled, energetic, inquisitive, and courteous. I could happily go on and on. My students deserve the absolute best because they are the absolute best. We have many traditions in Room 213 (my classroom) from Good News Monday to Global Current Events on Friday, but my favorite traditions involve our daily greetings and salutations at the beginning and end of class. They motivate me every day to be the best teacher I can possibly be.


Suzanne Higgins

Photo courtesy of Daycroft School

Suzanne Higgins

Art Teacher

Daycroft School

100 Oakbrook Dr. (Primary)
1095 N. Zeeb Rd. (Elementary)
734-662-3335 | daycroft.org

What is unique about working at Daycroft School?
Daycroft is an amazing place to work because everyone comes together to create an atmosphere where children love to learn. Students come to school ready to explore their world and join in our culture of kindness. Daycroft students are always incredibly excited about learning, making connections and developing skills.

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I really enjoy helping others, problem solving and creating an inspiring art studio. I get to do all three of these things everyday.

What is the most rewarding part of being a teacher?
It is incredibly rewarding to watch students show joy and pride in accomplishing something profound. Children often surprise themselves with what they can accomplish. Seeing students beam with pride is a wonderful feeling.

What sets your school apart from other schools in the community?
Daycroft is a small school that creates an homey atmosphere. Students, teachers, administrators, and families all work together like one big family.