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North's Abud named Teacher of Year



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State Superintendent Mike Flanagan announces Abud as the 2013-2014 Michigan Teacher of the Year. Photos by Rebecca Fannon

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In attendance last Thursday to celebrate Gary Abudís honor were from left, superintendent Tom Harwood, board of education trustee Cindy Pangborn, trustee Brian Summerfi eld, Abud and treasurer Judy Gafa. photo by Rebecca Fannon.
May 30, 2013
Gary Abud, a chemistry and physics teacher at Grosse Pointe North High School, became only the second teacher from the Grosse Pointe Public School System since 1952 to be named Michigan Teacher of the Year.

A surprised Abud learned of the honor last Thursday at an all-school assembly in the school gymnasium, during which state Superintendent Mike Flanagan made the official announcement.

"This is a surprise," said Abud, who also recently received the Michigan Science Teachers Association's 2012 Michigan Teacher of Promise. "I mean, we don't have assemblies like this with channel 2 News here every day that are scheduled the morning of. I knew I was a finalist, I knew that they told me you won't find out except for a surprise, that it'll be a surprise when you find out."

Other educators selected as finalists were: Misty Balkema, 5th/6th-grade social studies at Lawrence Elementary School; Todd Chappa, third-grade teacher at Lake Center Elementary; and Michael Medvinsky, music teacher at Oakwood Elementary.

"They're looking for outstanding teaching, and frankly, if you get to the five, you've got five winners," Flanagan said. "But they said that Gary just was that much more ahead than the others. His enthusiasm, his ability to connect with kids."

With the distinction, Abud receives a car for a year, a non-voting seat at the state board of education regular monthly meetings throughout the year and becomes an active voice for teachers, engaging in occasional discussions on advancing the state's education system.

GPPSS also receives $1,000 courtesy of MEEMIC Insurance Company in honor of Abud's recognition.

"I represent a variety of levels in Grosse Pointe public schools, from student to educator, and I think that all of that together is something I really want to convey, attribute it to my success," said Abud, also a graduate of North, class of 2002. "Working with the students here, working with the educators here and as well being a student of this school system has really helped me to be the best professional I can be, and I really want to dedicate this award to all those people in this school system that have helped me to be so successful."

Ralph N. Deal, a former GPPSS high school teacher, was selected Teacher of the Year in 1964. Abud is also the 14th high school teacher to earn the distinction, and fourth in the past four years.

"It's impossible to do something like this without a supportive family network, and that my wife, Janice, has been a true supporter and encourager of what I do in the classroom," Abud said. "And as a fellow educator, she's shared a lot of great ideas with me that have influenced how I think about education. And my family in general has been truly supportive."

Abud graduated pre-med from Wayne State University, as well as earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from there, and a master's in teaching from Saginaw Valley State University.

Flanagan's visit

Before last Thursday's assembly, Flanagan spent time in the morning visiting with North students and learning about programs such as Applied Medical Research and the mentor program.

"The one, I guess if I had to pick one that most impressed, is their mentor program, where higher achieving kids get an independent study hour and part of their responsibility is taking kids who are struggling and working with them in and out of school," Flanagan said. "Costs no money. Very effective. I don't see that. To see this structure, so tightly structured."

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