Top teacher award goes to another WMU grad

Contact: Deanne Puca
Photo of Cara Lougheed.

Cara Lougheed

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—For the second year in a row, the Michigan Department of Education has selected a Western Michigan University alumna as its top teacher. Cara Lougheed, a teacher at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, was surprised May 8 when Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles named her the 2019-20 Teacher of the Year during an all-school assembly.

"Ms. Lougheed has an incredible ability to forge meaningful relationships with those around her, whether it's students in her English class, or college students she's mentoring to become our next generation of educators," Alles said. "She cares about their long-term success, both inside and outside the classroom, and provides them with the tools necessary to be lifelong learners. She is an inspirational educator who truly embodies what it means to put students first."

Governor Gretchen Whitmer added, "Ms. Lougheed has dedicated her life to helping our students get ahead. Throughout her more than two decades of teaching, she has touched countless lives and inspired her students and colleagues. Michigan is a great state because of the dedicated teachers like Cara who work tirelessly to make sure their students get a great public education. I'm proud to congratulate her on her outstanding service to our state, and I am committed to making sure Cara and teachers everywhere are treated with the respect they deserve."

Lougheed began her teaching career at Rochester High School in 1998 and was a founding staff member of Stoney Creek High School when it opened in the fall of 2001. She earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education from WMU's College of Education and Human Development and a Master of Arts in teaching and learning from Florida's Nova Southeastern University.

During her career, she has taught thousands of students and mentored numerous future teachers; and she has inspired her colleagues for more than two decades throughout Rochester Community Schools and Oakland County.

Outside of the classroom, Lougheed has served as a social studies teacher leader, building activities director, district union representative and a National Education Association delegate. She has worked collaboratively with colleagues and administrators to write curriculum, design an attendance incentive program for students, and contribute to various projects aimed at increasing student connectedness and improving school culture.

Lougheed's selection comes after a months-long, multi-level competitive process. She was one of more than 400 teachers nominated for the award in the fall of 2018. The field was narrowed twice, and Lougheed was named one of the state's 10 Regional Teachers of the Year in April. Of the 10 finalists, Lougheed was chosen to receive the state's top honors.

She was one of two WMU alumnae to be included as this year's regional top 10. The other graduate was Katie Farrell, a first-grade teacher at Bauer Elementary in Hudsonville Public Schools who earned a bachelor's degree in early childhood and elementary education and a master's degree in literacy studies from WMU.

The Michigan Department of Education uses the Teacher of the Year program to recognize outstanding educators across the state and creates an avenue for them to share their voice with the department and other education stakeholders as they work to make Michigan a top-10 education state in 10 years.

As the state's newest top teacher, Lougheed will chair the Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Committee, which is comprised of each year's cohort of regional teachers of the year. She also will have a nonvoting seat on the State Board of Education during its regular monthly meetings.

Last year's top state teacher also is a Bronco alumna. Laura Chang, a two-time WMU graduate, was the 2018-19 Michigan Teacher of the Year. She is a second-grade teacher at Sunset Elementary School in Vicksburg and part-time instructor of special education and literacy studies at the University who earned bachelor's and master's degrees from WMU.

WMU's College of Education and Human Development has the longest-standing history at the University. Since its inception as Western State Normal School in 1903, WMU has impacted millions of lives through preparing committed and well-equipped education professionals with its diverse program offerings, innovative educational practices, and diverse and challenging educational experiences.

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WMU grad and instructor is named state's top teacher | June 8, 2018