Holly Academy

A Public School Academy Authorized by Central Michigan University

Holly educator nominated among five in state for Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year award

Holly Academy middle school science teacher Katherine Carswell is among five finalists in the state who were recently nominated for the Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year award.

The Michigan Association of Public School Academies on Monday announced the finalists for the award — a small group chosen from more than 10,000 public charter schools in the state.

The winner will be announced during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 3-9.

Carswell, the only middle school teacher among the five nominees, said she’s honored by the nomination.

“I’m feeling super excited, but a bit nervous,” said Carswell, 32, of Grand Blanc.

“The fact that I know there are so many fantastic educators here makes me that much more flattered.”

Carswell said she enjoys teaching in the science department at Holly Academy, where she has been for five years.

“There are many STEM-based programs here that emphasize performance and using evidence and reasoning,” said Carswell.

“We teach next generation science standards. … We’re among the top five percent of charter schools in Oakland County, and No. 1 in Genesee County.”

At Holly Academy, students can be involved in horticulture classes, which include the planting of boulevard trees, a year-round greenhouse, a summer garden club, salsa and male syrup production and the planting of an apple orchard. There is also a Lego robotics club among other programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and math.

Julie Kildee, Director of Holly Academy, said Carswell embodies the qualities that define an outstanding science educator.

“She creates a classroom environment where students experience a phenomenon, after which she facilitates an investigation,” said Kildee.

“Discussions and model building ensue, to lay the groundwork for students to lead their own learning.

“Katherine’s students engage in authentic experiences, resulting in increased student engagement … (and) brings a wealth of knowledge to Holly Academy, which serves our student population well.”

Melissa Wiaduck, an academy parent and the school’s parent ambassador, said Carswell taught her two sons.

“Now in high school honors science classes, they’ve mentioned taking exams and ‘hearing Ms. Carswell’s lecture on the test matter to attain the correct answer,’” said Wiaduck.

“That’s a true testament to powerful teaching.”

Along with being the chair of the charter academy’s K-8 science department, Carswell is also a member of its school management team. In 2012, she was awarded the Flint Area Science Teacher of the Year designation.

A mother herself, Carswell said she likes to ask her children what, specifically, they learned each day in school. She explained she likes to use social media to encourage parents to engage in what their children are learning, as well.

“I like to throw specifics to parents on social media — tell them to ask their kids about the dissection of a mammal heart, for example — and I think parents appreciate that,” Carswell said.

“Maybe that sort of put my name out there.”

Carswell earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology from Michigan State University. She received a teaching certificate from University of Michigan – Flint, and a master’s degree in K-12 curriculum from Marygrove College in Detroit.

For more information: Holly educator nominated among five in state for Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year award.

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