WMU News

WMU graduate named Oregon's top teacher

Dec. 17, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Deborah J. (Mack) White, a graduate of Western Michigan University, has been named Oregon's 2002 Teacher of the Year.

The 21-year veteran educator teaches remedial reading and mathematics at Lyle Elementary School in Dallas, Ore., and bested 25 other standouts to become the state's top teacher.

Like her peers, White was judged on leadership, instructional expertise, understanding of educational issues, professional development and vision. State officials announced White as the winner at a surprise ceremony in early November.

"Deborah operates from the philosophy that all children can learn to read, write and understand mathematical concepts," says Lyle Elementary School principal Christy M. Perry. "She works diligently to provide strategies and support for our most struggling readers. Deborah has high expectations for her students and earns the respect of her students in return."

Although she has 21 years of formal classroom experience, White's commitment to educating others stems from childhood experiences.

"I wanted to teach children to read," the 1976 WMU College of Education graduate said in her application. "When I was young, I attended a Catholic school. Learning to read was easy for me, but I remember bringing home lessons for homework. Friends in the neighborhood used to come over to borrow those lessons for their own children who were not learning to read with the instruction they were getting in their own schools. I realized then just how important learning to read was."

As an English major with an education minor, White said WMU introduced her to classrooms and kids fairly early, even before her student teaching days.

"The bottom line is the many opportunities for practical experiences as well as good instruction and cutting-edge theory and instructional techniques really made me feel ready to go," she says. "I've heard lots of people [in Oregon] speak highly of the education undergrads get in Michigan, and I really think it's true."

Over the next year, White will serve as an ambassador for Oregon's schools and in January, she will meet with other state teachers of the year at a conference in Dallas, Texas. She also will attend a NASA Space Camp in the summer and a national Teacher of the Year forum next fall in Washington, D.C., where she will meet President George W. Bush.

Related story
Alumnus Bill Cecil is Michigan Teacher of the Year

Media contact: Gail H. Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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