2022 Educators of the Year6 min read

We are excited to announce the 2022 Educators of the Year for our Michigan District Lutheran schools. It is a blessing to acknowledge the talents of our educators serving in our schools. We have so many passionate and gifted educators working with our students and families across the state that it can be difficult to single out a handful for the awards each year. This year was no exception as we had many wonderful teachers and administrators nominated by their peers. Praise be to God as He continues to work through the educators He has called to serve in our ministries here in the Michigan District.

Lynn Lawton – 2022 Michigan District Early Childhood Teacher of the Year

Lynn serves at Bethlehem Lutheran Early Learning Center in Roseville. Here are some comments shared by those who nominated her:

Lynn is always willing to go above and beyond for anyone. She is an amazing teacher and staff memberShe is always willing to take on extra tasks and is the last to complain.

We all can always count on Lynn to have a smile on her face. She is like a mom to us all.

The families of our center have said she is the reason their children love coming to school and that they wouldn’t trust anyone else with the care of their babies.

Lynn is a part of a vital ministry in our Lutheran congregations sharing Jesus’ love with children at such an early age. We are thankful for her work both inside and outside of the classroom.

Congratulations, Lynn!

Monica Slack – 2022 Michigan District Early Childhood Director of the Year

We are blessed with many early childhood centers throughout the Michigan District, and they all have administrators that play a vital role in the success of Lutheran education. Monica serves at St. Paul, Ann Arbor’s Early Childhood Center. Here are some comments from those who nominated her:

Monica is a good listener, gives great guidance and gives her staff grace.

Monica gives all of her time and energy to running two programs smoothly. She is a blessing!

St. Paul is grateful for Monica’s leadership and dedication to sharing the love of Jesus with students and families.

Monica’s ministry to the students, staff, and families at St. Paul is one that should be celebrated. We are extremely thankful for her leadership and dedication to her ministry. Congratulations, Monica!

Jackie Brooks – 2022 Michigan District K-8 Teacher of the Year

Each year we lift up outstanding educators who are doing extraordinary things in the classroom. Jackie serves as the Kindergarten teacher at Christ The King Lutheran School in Southgate, and here is what peers had to say about her:

Jackie has infectious energy. She is innovative and driven. She is always sharing creative ideas to boost morale and community spirit.

There is no better Kindergarten teacher out there! Her love for our Lord, students, and community is inspiring.

She is a gifted teacher who shares the love of Christ with all those she servesCTK is a better place because of how God is using Mrs. Brooks.

We are thankful for Jackie’s work both inside and outside of the classroom, and we look forward to hearing how she continues to have a powerful impact on those she has been called to serve. Congratulations, Jackie!

Melissa Eastland – 2022 Michigan District High School Teacher of the Year

It is our privilege to recognize Melissa Eastland as the 2022 Michigan District High School Teacher of the Year. She serves at West Michigan Lutheran High School, and here are some comments shared by those who nominated her for the award:

Melissa Eastland is a part-time teacher at West Michigan Lutheran who serves and gives as though she is a full-time teacher. She goes above and beyond what is expected of her.

The students are very important to Melissa, who treats them all like her own children. This caring nature has her being one of their favorite teachers. At the senior night basketball game, four of the five seniors listed AP US History as their favorite class and that is all thanks to their teacher, Mrs. Eastland.

Melissa is always interacting with students and offering new and innovative ways to help students learn.

It is evident that Melissa’s ministry to the students, staff, and families at West Michigan Lutheran High School is one that should be celebrated. We look forward to hearing how she continues to have a powerful impact those she has been called to serve. Congratulations, Melissa!

Dan Burk – 2022 Michigan District Principal of the Year

Each year we lift up an outstanding principal who exemplifies what it means to be a servant leader. It is our privilege to recognize Dan Burk as the 2022 Michigan District Principal of the Year. Dan serves at St. Matthew Lutheran School in Westland, and this is what people had to say about him:

Dan is an amazing leader. He inspires us by the example he sets dailyhe has been right alongside us cleaning, listening, and looking for new ways to encourage us as a staff.

Dan is a servant leader who leads by example. He pushes his staff to continue to grow and learn. His goal is for our students to know their Savior.

He is supportive and also pushes us to better ourselves as educators and Christian exampleshe shows concern for all teachers, and he will always find ways to make our days go smoother. He leads a staff filled with a variety of personalities with the utmost grace.

Rev. Dr. Bryce Rosche, pastor of St. Matthew, Westland offered additional comments on Dan’s ministry at both the church and school. He says, “Dan’s servant leadership and work ethic has won the respect of his faculty and staff and has led to amazing results in both the school and the church under God’s guidance. When Dan began his role as principal in 2018, school enrollment was approximately 80 K-8 and 30-40 in preschool. It has since grown to 135 for K-8 and 60 for preschool in the 2022-2023 school year. St. Matthew also received a 5-year accreditation for her school under Dan’s leadership.”

He continues, “Dan instituted streaming of our worship services and Bible classes with website and YouTube links. Additionally, he runs our website, manages our Facebook account presence, and oversees the cleaning and preventative maintenance of our facilities. Coach Burk led our elementary school’s boys basketball team to a Division B conference championship this year while re-introducing an array of sports. Doing all of the above, he found the time to serve on the Michigan District Board of Directors. We as a church and school would not be where we are without God working through such human means as Dan Burk.”

Congratulations, Dan!

At the end of February 2023, we will begin the nomination process for our annual awards.

Featured photo © eternalcreative/iStock; award photos courtesy of Travis Grulke/Michigan District, LCMS; 2021 action photo of Dan Burk by Elisa Schulz/Michigan District, LCMS

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This blog is published by the Communications Department of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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Craig Britton - September 7, 2022

God be praised! And a hefty “Bravo!” to all these recipients. Our kids, our families are truly blessed by you all.