NOTE: Carolyn Phillips is a student at Hartland High School and submitted the following essay, which we felt merited publication.
The ability to teach is a gift few people possess, and even fewer do well. But Michele Young is an anomaly to that fact. Putting in thirty-two cherished years, the second-grade Lakes Elementary School teacher has been honored with Teacher of the Year for her unwavering dedication, passion, and love for her students.
Throughout her time educating, Mrs.Young has had the honor of teaching kindergarten, first, and second grade. Yet the second grade has remained treasured throughout her career. She says these learners hold the perfect ratio of eagerness to take in knowledge and independence to grow as people. Throughout high school and into university, there was always a tale of caution warning against pursuing a degree in education; but, Mrs. Young knew what her heart called after.
From a young age, she felt a deep connection to kids, and without another educator in her family, this career path was foreign. Despite this, she’s become an extraordinary teacher and wouldn’t change it for the world. “This career has been a blessing” she states with nothing but complete and utter joy in her complexion, and not the slightest waiver of her voice.
When becoming a teacher, every educator finds a mission as to why they do what they do. For Young, this mission was to create lifelong learners that desire to know more out of their own ambition, not the motivation of others; and it’s safe to say she did exactly that. Former students Gabby Turnblom, Mia Zerafa, Emma Hapomek (age nine), and Oliver Erriddg (age ten) unanimously agreed that Mrs. Young played a key figure role in their desire to keep learning through her fun, welcoming, and loving classroom. Oliver summarized Young’s teaching ability perfectly by saying, “She knows exactly how you need help and how to make you understand.”
Anonymously nominated by several people in the district over the past several years. Young is widely known for the student’s success as they enter the third grade. One of her current students is eight-year-old Paul Guss, the recess-loving second grader who says Mrs. Young is not only a great teacher because of her ability to help them understand new concepts, but she also helps them navigate difficult social situations. For Paul, this was dealing with friends that think and act differently than him, and knowing what to do while still being kind. He was asked “Do you think Mrs. Young knows how great of a teacher she is?” And with the most ponderous look an eight year old can give, chin stroke and all, he confirmed, “No, honestly no….she’s a really kind teacher”.
As her day winds down she spends her evenings reading, going on walks, and preparing for future lesson plans. Although there’s quite the stigma against bringing work home. Mrs. Young gladly lets her students impact her personal life. She says, “Being a teacher makes me a better mom, and being a mom makes me a better teacher.” Although her children are grown now, it can be assured that if their childhood was anything like Young’s classroom, they’d be considered very lucky.
Michele Young is a mentor and a pioneer in the field of education. She embodies what it means to love what you do and do what you love. She has exhibited the power to change lives and leave an impact on her students. She is beloved by her coworkers, current students, and former students. Of the students I interviewed, each had one message they’d like to share with Mrs. Young…”Thank you.”
On behalf of Lakes Elementary, Hartland Township, Livingston County, and all those that you have impacted. Thank you Mrs. Young for being exactly who you are: an incredible and inspirational teacher.
To honor Mrs. Youngs’ achievements as an educator come to the Memorial Day parade on May 29th in Hartland’s downtown from noon to three. See her walk with other Hartland teachers that have changed the lives of those in the community.