NMU alumna Nanette Hanson, the 2023 Michigan State Teacher of the Year, was honored on the field before the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 8, and stayed to watch the Michigan Wolverines win the trophy. She is a first-grade teacher at Lemmer Elementary School in Escanaba. The recognition was part of the College Football Playoff Foundation's Extra Yard for Teachers program.
“We need that national coverage for people out there who would make amazing teachers to know that it is a respected profession,” Hanson said in a media interview in advance of the game. “That they can make a difference and they can be impactful to young kids everywhere. For the Football Playoff Foundation to bring all 50 state teachers of the year to Houston and elevate us for this noble profession is a wonderful thing. I'm very excited about all the activities they've planned for us.”
Hanson earned two degrees from Northern: a bachelor's in elementary education in 1994 and a master's in educational administration/supervision in 2009. She was selected to represent Michigan in the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
“This has been a wonderful experience,” she told CBS Detroit. “They flew up from Lansing and surprised me at a school assembly to announce that I was going to be the 2023 Teacher of the Year. It has given me an opportunity to be an ambassador for teachers in Michigan and across nation. And it's opened up so many doors for me professionally and just helped me be a better teacher and advocate for students.”
In more than 20 years in the profession, Hanson has taught at various grade levels, from alternative high school to first grade. She has taught the latter for the past 17 years. Hanson said students that age are a joy to teach because “they're learning to read, love going to school and come with this energy of eagerly wanting to learn and try new things.”
According to her online CCSSO biography, building strong relationships with each one of her students so they know school and her classroom are safe spaces where they can learn and explore is Hanson's biggest responsibility as an educator. She tries to create a strong sense of community, respect and belonging in her classroom—a room where both students and the teacher work together to uncover learning in an authentic and meaningful way.
“Hanson strives to cultivate an atmosphere of excellence both in the classroom and with her colleagues,” it states. “Mentoring new teachers allows Hanson to help mentees navigate through elements of their new professional lives and offer them tools and supports to be successful educators.
"Hanson also works as a team leader of the Leader in Me Lighthouse Team. This team works to coordinate a schoolwide leadership model to promote the Leader in Me principles and connect them to the school's vision. Hanson aspires to provide a positive learning experience that advocates for young learners and their families and works toward equity and access for all.”
Watch her full CBS Detroit interview from Jan. 5 here.