Northern Michigan University alumna Nanette Hanson has been named the 2022-23 Michigan Teacher of the Year. She is a first-grade teacher at Lemmer Elementary School in Escanaba. Hanson earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education and creative arts from NMU in 1994, and a master's in educational administration and supervision in 2009.
In her application, Hanson shared why teaching was the only career she considered.
“I loved learning and going to school,” she wrote. “Being exposed to many wonderful teachers in high school really solidified my decision to pursue a career in education. The fact that those teachers forged a meaningful relationship with me and genuinely cared about me made me want to offer the same kinds of encouragement and relationships to other kids.”
Hanson's selection as the 2022-23 MTOY comes after a months-long, multi-level competitive process that started with the nomination of more than 275 teachers in the fall of 2021. The field was narrowed twice, and Hanson was named one of the state's 10 Regional Teachers of the Year (RTOY) in April. Each RTOY then interviewed with a panel of statewide education stakeholders, where each presented a short professional development module and answered questions on topics relevant to issues faced by teachers today.
The 10 RTOYs will work together during the upcoming school year as the 2022-23 Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Committee (MTLAC), comprised of the year's RTOY cohort. During their year of service, group members work directly with Michigan Department of Education and other educational stakeholders in the state to develop solutions to issues facing the Michigan education system, to ensure that the voices of teachers are present in these discussions.
In addition to her work on the MTLAC, Hanson will serve as an advocate for, and representative of, the more than 86,000 public school teachers statewide and will engage in discussions on how best to continue to improve Michigan's schools with a non-voting seat at the State Board of Education table every month and as a member of the Governor's Educator Advisory Council. Hanson is also the state's candidate for the prestigious 2023 National Teacher of the Year honor.
In a press release announcing the selection, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Hanson is a “life-changing educator” who has been serving her community for 26 years and counting.
“We are thrilled to honor Nanette as Michigan's 2022-23 Teacher of the Year and grateful to educators across Michigan who consistently go above and beyond for their kids,” Whitmer stated. “Thank you, Nanette, for creating a space for students to—in your own words—have the freedom to be themselves and be celebrated for all that they are. We will continue making historic education investments to build on the work teachers like Nanette do every day to uplift their students.”
Since 1952, one of Michigan's outstanding teachers has been named Michigan Teacher of the Year and been offered opportunities to serve as an advocate for the teaching profession at the state level. The Michigan Teacher of the Year program is not about finding the “best teacher,” an impossible task; instead, it is about celebrating an outstanding member of the teaching profession and giving Michigan teachers a voice at the state level.
“Congratulations to Nanette Hanson, who represents all of the great teachers we have in every corner of Michigan,” said State Superintendent Michael Rice in the press release. “The Michigan Teacher of the Year is an important advocate and ally for teachers and students. We appreciate and will benefit from Ms. Hanson and her experiences as we work to improve Michigan public education.”
Program expenses for the MTOY, as well as the RTOY and MTLAC, are offset through the generous support of The Meemic Foundation, now celebrating its 16th year as the program's sponsor. The Meemic Foundation presents each RTOY and his or her school with a plaque commemorating the accomplishment.
“As the 16th year sponsor of the MTOY program, the Meemic Foundation proudly joins MDE in recognizing Nanette Hanson as the new Michigan Teacher of the Year as well as celebrating the achievements of the other nine RTOYs,” said Pam Harlin, director of The Meemic Foundation. “As teaching, this honored profession, continues to face a multitude of challenges, the passion of these teacher leaders will serve as needed voices for all Michigan educators and students. Meemic remains committed to supporting Michigan education and salutes the unwavering dedication of all educators.”
Hanson and her fellow RTOYs will be formally recognized by the State Board of Education during a future board meeting.