Celebration of Teaching: Ten Exceptional Urban Teachers

The evening of October 17th marked the first Celebrate Teachers and Teaching event hosted by the Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee (EDGM).

As a quick backdrop, the EDGM members had grown weary of the wrongful characterizations of teachers in recent years and decided to do something about it.  Unlike the way they were portrayed, the teachers they knew were very knowledgeable, skilled, caring, hard-working, and passionate.  As a result, they decided to sponsor an event that publicly affirmed the profession and demonstrated our gratitude to its classroom heroes.

The event included an awards ceremony that honored 10 exemplary urban educators. These are those educators.

2013 Early Career Award Winner:  Lauren Boyd
Lauren Boyd has been a second-grade teacher at Milwaukee College Preparatory School-38th Street Campus for two years (as of 3/13).  She earned her certification for teaching through the Urban Education Fellows’ licensure program at Mount Mary University, where she also completed her master’s in education.

According to Principal Maggie Olson, Lauren was chosen by Ms. Olson to attend lead teacher meetings at Schools That Can Milwaukee.  Ms. Boyd is very engaged with her learners, and her students show strong growth on MAP testing in math and reading.  Lauren also demonstrates other positive instructional traits:  “…superior classroom management skills…strong classroom culture…open to feedback and seeking support…builds wonderful relationships with (her students’) families.”

Dr. Debra Dosemagen of Mount Mary University remarked:  “Lauren clearly understands her students from a developmental perspective…and realizes that choice is a powerful motivator for students…” “…Lauren’s ability to adapt to situations and maintain a focus on rigorous learning objectives and student engagement is perhaps her greatest strength.”

A parent comments:  “Her high classroom expectations, structure, consistency, and loving nature has allowed (my child) to feel success.”

As Boyd states in her portfolio:  “It is important that students take pride in their learning and have ownership in the formation of our learning environment.  Our room is clean, welcoming, and student-centered so as to create the ideal learning environment that is both rigorous and supportive of student needs.”

2013 Advanced  Career Award: Stacey Lange
Stacey Lange is a teacher at Walker Elementary School in West Allis where she participates in the Next Generation Learning Community.  She is a graduate of Alverno College and has nearly five years of teaching experience.

A letter from nominating principal  Tracy Fischer-Tubbs states: “Stacey is a true teacher leader.  She is an innovative, collaborative, dedicated teacher; she strives to go above and beyond in all situations.  Stacey was a breakout leader in our building in twenty first century learning and next generation teaching practices…She continues to research, learn, grow, and incorporate advancements for students.  She is part of a highly collaborative team that functions as an example for others outside the district.”

Mary Diez,Ph.D., prior Dean, School of Education at Alverno College, had this to say: “Stacey Lange treats her students as scholars, as intellectuals, as colleagues, as innovators, and considers them to deserve nothing less.”

A parent advocating for Lange stated: “She works with many different children with many different learning styles and still manages to reach out and touch the lives of every single child…She commands respect, but is gentle and interested in each of the students.”

Another parent wrote:  “Her ability to instill self-confidence in my child has helped my child develop an extreme love of learning.”

2013 Advanced Career Award Winner: Marko Radmanovic
Marko Radmanovic has been a Special Education teacher within the Milwaukee Public Schools since 1990.  He started as a volunteer in MPS at age 16, became a paraprofessional in 1988, and taught for MPS since 1990 after completing his Special Education certification from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He currently is working on principal certification through the UWM/MPS Emerging Principals’ program.  He was nominated for this award in March 2013 while teaching at A.E. Burdick School by his Principal Robert Schleck.  Marko began teaching August 2013 at Vieau School with Principal Eduardo Galvan.

Principal Robert Schleck  notes that Marko “…is an excellent teacher.  Not only is he able to plan instruction that is engaging and developmentally appropriate, use a variety of assessment strategies to monitor and evaluate student learning, masterfully orchestrate classroom discussions, and effectively manage classroom routines and student behavior, but he also is a consummate professional.”  Marko shows “…thoughtfulness, leadership skills”… “and genuine compassion for children and their development.”  

Carol Colbeck of the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee said:  Marko…”believes educator’s must engage in self-reflect, and he does.  His record (at UWM) also shows that his reflection leads to thoughtful action that makes a positive difference for individual students, the groups in his classrooms, his school, MPS, and the city itself.”

A parent commented: “Children have an innate sense when someone truly believes in them, and (our child) knew that Mr. R. did.  With Mr. R.’s help, (our child) was able to make huge gains in…math skills, as seen on MAP scores…for the first time succeeding at grade-level math.”  This…”really changed (our child’s) ability to enjoy school.”

2013 Advanced Career Award Winner: Sonya Wasielewski
Sonya Wasielewski is one of the founding faculty at Carmen High School of Science & Technology.  She began teaching there in 2007 and is an English instructor for 9th graders.  She is a graduate of Alverno College.

In her nominations letter, Principal Patricia Hoben, Ph.D., states that Ms. Wasielewski has exceptionally strong relationships with her students, and she won the 2011 Jaime Escalante Exceptional Teaching Award given by the senior class.  She has provided leadership to the 9th grade English team on mapping the common core literacy standards and on improving the school’s use of assessment to support instruction.”

Mary Diez,Ph.D., former Dean of the School of Education at Alverno College says: “What stands out in Ms. Wasielewski’s practice that serves her students so well is her ability to teach two key college readiness areas in the English curriculum—written composition and analysis of literature.  She has a strong background in an approach called ‘Six Traits Writing,’ which provides students with tools to organize and develop their ideas…” “Students in her classes learn to see themselves as writers and show their growing confidence in their willingness to share their writing with others in and outside of their class.”

A student wrote:  “…having Mrs. Wasielewski as a teacher has really helped me improve my reading and writing skills.  She really works hard with her students so that they can comprehend the lesson being taught….”

2013 Advanced Career Award Winner: Katerina Jones
Katerina Jones is a second-grade teacher at Samuel Clemens Elementary School in the Milwaukee Public School district.  She has five years of teaching experience.  She was part of the 2002-2003 cohort of Metropolitan Multicultural Teacher Education Pre-Service Program at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  This program prepared paraprofessionals to become certified teachers.

Principal Jacqueline Richardson notes in her nomination letter that “…Ms. Jones demonstrates an uncommon commitment to providing quality instruction based on each student’s developmental level and learning style.”…”…she continues to expand her knowledge and practice to empower students to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, and productive members of society.”

Carol Colbeck, former Dean of the School of Education at UWM states:  “Ms. Jones puts the concept of “with-it-ness” (i.e., students either having strength in all areas while others don’t) into action in her teaching at MPS where students come to school with a variety of out-of-school issues such as hunger, family concerns, or neighborhood safety that have an impact on their learning.  She has compassion and endeavors to be in tune with every individual child to understand what each needs in the classroom.”

A student of Katerina Jones writes:  “She teaches her students respect, discipline, and love.  They give her the upmost respect.” … “She’s an example and a leader.”

2013 Advanced Career Award: Michelle Young
Michelle Young teaches at Rufus King International Middle School in the Milwaukee Public School district.  She’s taught science for 13 years.  She was certified at Alverno College in the area of broad field science.  She also participated for three summers in the Teacher Quality Project and received her master’s degree from Alverno.  She was nominated for this award in March 2013 by her Principal Peter Samaranayake, Ph.D.  As of August 2013, the Principal is Tamera Ellis.


Principal Peter Samaranayake support letter notes that “…Ms. Young is devoted to improving the learning and character of our students in Milwaukee…she has a broad set of skills that will inspire current and prospective students.”

Mary Diez,Ph.D., former Dean of the School of Education at Alverno College says:  “When you enter Ms. Young’s classroom, you see a sign that says ‘You are about to enter a learning zone.’  She takes pride in her track record of nearly 100% proficiency for her students in reaching learning targets for science in classroom work.”… “She often says to her students, ‘I will not allow you to fall through the cracks.’”

One of Michelle Young’s students writes:  “The beginning of the year my grades weren’t so good… but…these past three months Mrs. Young has helped me become a better person emotionally and academically.”

2013 Honorable Mentions:
Jane Savage (Early-Career):  She’s been a kindergarten teacher at Seeds of Health—Wind Lake for two years.  She also did her student teaching and worked as a long-term substitute teacher at this school.  Jane received her master’s degree from Alverno College.   




Dawn Liriano (Early-Career):  She’s taught fourth-grade teacher at St. Adalbert’s Elementary School for two years.  She assists English-as-a-second language learners in math, language arts, and science.  Her fluency in Spanish and sensitivity to Hispanic culture have been a great help in building higher achievement scores for her students and making positive connections with parents.  She received her master’s degree from Alverno College.



Naquisha Mann (Early-Career):  She’s completed her first year of teaching at Young Leaders Academy, after ten years of prior service as a paraprofessional at the school.  She received her certification for teaching from Alverno, where she’s working on completing her master’s degree.




Craig Machut (Advanced-Career):  He’s taught at Rufus King International High School for eight years in science.  He received his teaching certification and master’s degree through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *