NOVI — On March 2, the Novi Educational Foundation named Hattie Maguire as the Novi Community School District Educator of the Year as her family and colleagues, as well as media representatives, surprised her in her classroom.
“I think it is just amazing that we are celebrating our teachers in such a grand way, and you can’t do enough to really recognize the incredible work that they do with our children,” said Novi Community School District Superintendent Ben Mainka.
Maguire’s jaw just about hit the floor when Sue Collins-Schroeder, Novi Educational Foundation executive director, presented her with the award. Maguire said she knew something was up when her parents entered her Novi High School classroom.
“Every student has different needs, and you make sure that you meet all of your students at the level that they need to be met at to make sure that that student is successful.”Sue Collins-Schroeder, Novi Educational Foundation executive director, while presenting the award
“My dad doesn’t typically show up at my job,” she said with a chuckle.
Along with her parents and students, the event was witnessed by her husband and children, who presented her with flowers. Also present was a vast array of media and some of her colleagues who filed into her classroom to witness the moment.
Maguire was selected from the top four nominees to be the district’s overall Educator of the Year. Each of the nominees had taken the title of Educator of the Year for their category — elementary school, middle school, high school and ancillary — and was awarded $1,000 from the NCSD. In order to be considered, the educator had to be nominated by both a peer and a student.
“One thing that really stood out for you is how you interact with your students. Every student has different needs, and you make sure that you meet all of your students at the level that they need to be met at to make sure that that student is successful,” Collins-Schroeder told Maguire while presenting the award.
Maguire teaches Advanced Placement English courses and since its founding has been one of the instructors of the district’s incubator program, which empowers students to design projects that make a difference in the world. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and has been teaching for 22 years, 20 of which have been in Novi. She resides in South Lyon with her husband and two children.
“I love it here. I really do. And I love these guys (students). They make my day really, really fun,” said Maguire upon learning of her designation.
Maguire said she has stayed with the Novi Community School District for so long because the district allows her to try new things, experiment as a teacher and be supported. She said NCSD is a fulfilling place to work and the administration has been supportive of her ideas for new classes and programs, such as the incubator program. She said the district being so “open” to “teacher leaders” has made it a fun place to work.
Her mother, Lois Tackebury, a retired teacher, said she was very proud of her daughter.
“It’s like, wow, what an honor, but remembering how she started here. She was working debate teams and so many hours. It is really nice that she is getting honored this way to say thank you. It’s just a wonderful way to say thank you. So many teachers could get it, obviously. Why she got it, who knows. There are so many teachers that work so hard, and that’s why I think it’s just amazing that they picked her.”
Along with the title of Educator of the Year, Maguire was given a two-year lease on a Chevrolet Equinox, with the option to buy, from Feldman Automotive of Novi. This is the first year that Feldman has provided the vehicle to the Educator of the Year, but the dealership has provided vehicles in the past for other causes.
“We love to do things for the community, and you know teachers don’t get enough credit,” said Marla Feldman, vice president of Feldman Automotive. “It just makes you happy to put a smile on someone’s face, someone that is deserving. … We’re just happy to be a part of it.”
She said the Equinox seemed like the right vehicle for Maguire.
“It’s a great vehicle. My kids drive one,” said Feldman.
Feldman said Feldman Automotive Group is just up the street from the school and has done many other things with the schools. According to Feldman, they have helped in the past with school programming to prevent distracted driving.
“It just made sense for us to do it,” she said. “We try to do everything we can in the communities where our dealerships are at.”
Farheen Hirji, 17, is the student who nominated Maguire for the honor. She described Maguire as an “awesome” teacher. She said she loves that Maguire is able to build a bond with each of her students and helps them to achieve their goals both inside and outside the classroom.
“Not only with classwork, she was always there if I needed advice on something like prom planning or if we wanted to plan a party or if I needed any help with anything in my personal life too, she was always there to always provide a hand,” said Hirji. “I think she is so deserving. I’m really happy that she got this opportunity and I’m really glad that I was able to write her a rec letter that would help her get here. She also wrote a rec letter for me for college, so it was kind of like repaying her.”
Emily Pohlonski, the director of the Novi Community School District Virtual School program, has worked with Maguire for 20 years. She said Maguire is “incredible.”
“My favorite thing about watching Hattie with students is that she pushes them while still empowering them,” said Pohlonski. “She really pushes them. Pushes their thinking. Pushes them to change the structure of what they’re doing to make it even more impactful.”
“She’s just exceptional,” said Novi High School Principal Nicole Carter, who has worked with Maguire for nearly 20 years. “The characteristics that she demonstrates in the classroom is what you would want in every single classroom in your school. … I have over 125 ridiculously talented teachers, but when it comes to Hattie, she sets the bar. She is the epitome of what you would want in a classroom.”
“Since I have started, I have just been impressed with the way that she has connected with kids and has such an innovative mind,” Mainka said. “She certainly embodies and represents the entire teaching staff very well.”
Maguire is now in the running to be the Educator of the Year for the county.
“The sky is the limit for her,” said Carter.
The three educators who won their divisions but not the district title will receive an additional $500 from Novi Educational Foundation. This includes Michelle Donberger, the prekindergarten to fourth grade Educator of the Year; Lori Gerecke, the grades 5-8 Educator of the Year; and Kathleen Ader, the Ancillary Staff Member of the Year.