Farmington Schools surprises teachers of the year

Farmington Public Schools officials on Wednesday surprised Stephanie Strunk at Gill Elementary School, Christina Fifield at East Middle School, and Kathryn Gustafson at Farmington High School with recognition as the district’s 2017-2018 Teachers of the Year.

Family members, colleagues and students helped honorees celebrate. At Farmington High, a representative of the Suburban Collection told Gustafson she had been chosen as the recipient of a 2-3 year vehicle lease, donated annually by the metro Detroit dealership.

Stephanie Strunk and Chris Suliman
Stephanie Strunk is pictured right with principal Chris Suliman. (Farmington Public Schools)

Strunk, a first grade teacher, has worked in the district since 1994. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education from Eastern Michigan University.

In nominating her, a colleague wrote, “I have worked with Stephanie for the past 20 plus years. I have always known her to be a strong supporter of not only kids, but our entire staff. Her positive attitude toward the school community, new ideas, and quality instruction consistently drives her to improve her teaching practices.”

“Mrs. Strunk is a great teacher because she would always try to fit in social studies even when we didn’t have enough time,” a student wrote. “Another reason she is a great is she makes me think hard. She gave us lots of work. And after the hard work she gave us brain breaks. As you can see, Mrs. Strunk made second grade a blast!”

Christina Fifield Ken Sanders George Heitsch
Christina Fifield is pictured with principal Ken Sanders, left, and Superintendent George Heitsch, right. (Farmington Public Schools)

Fifield, who teaches seventh grade English Language Arts and Readers Workshop, joined the district in 1998. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Michigan State University and received her Master’s in Secondary English Instruction from Oakland University.

Colleague Debra Calanchi wrote, “Christi uses many strategies to promote and encourage student success and to enhance lifelong learning. She has established a true sense of ‘team’ at East, in the work that she does both with her students and her colleagues. Simply put, Christi Fifield is what everyone needs!”

A former student called Fifield “a model of an excellent teacher, she pays equal attention to all students and she doesn’t mind going the extra mile to help students who might be struggling with their work. She is consistently willing to sacrifice her time to help and support her students and other teachers when needed. She has the ability to inspire students to explore their interests, and I believe she will continue her positive influence on many more students in the coming years.”

Kathryn Gustafson
Kathryn Gustafson (Farmington Public Schools)

Gustafson, who teachers Economics and Social Studies, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and her Masters of Social Studies in Political Science from the University of Michigan. She has taught in the district since 1996.

Colleague Steven Korpusik wrote, “Katy possesses tremendous enthusiasm, deep subject matter knowledge, personal warmth and a strikingly optimistic personality. Often, those traits dim as one moves through a career spanning over 20 years. Yet, in Katy’s case, her traits have only become increasingly intensified.”

A parent wrote, “As a teacher, her influence on my daughter and the other students who were fortunate to have her as a teacher was invaluable. Her passion for her subject matter was evident and she made learning fun and relevant. What stands out more is her ability to be that mentor to students of all backgrounds. She is a trusted adult who encourages students to move in a positive direction as students, but even more importantly as young people…She truly makes a difference.”

Teachers of the Year will represent Farmington Schools in the Oakland Schools Teachers of the Year competition and will be honored at the May 15 Farmington Public Schools Board of Education meeting.