Teacher of the Year 2022


Every year, Imagine Prep has recognized teachers for their hard work and dedication toward the school and their students. This is an outstanding award that is very memorable for the winner. It usually starts with an email getting sent off to each teacher with a google form attached. They can nominate up to three teachers that they feel should be recognized and explain why they should win. After everyone had a chance nominate on the form for this year, the top three nominees were Zach Wade,  Michelle Baker, and Garrit Pickelmann. This years teacher of the year honors were awarded to Pickelmann. 

Principal, Chris McComb shared his views about this award and the process for a winner to be determined.

“The process looks the same in terms of selection; we send out a form to teachers and staff, then we gather nominations,” McComb said. “It’s difficult because there is a ton of talent on the staff and we wanted to recognize so many of the teachers.  Three people stood above the rest this year. They are well deserving and well candidates.”

McComb had explained that after the top three teachers were chosen, it was tough for them to select a finalist to continue into the regional and national selection of teacher of the year.

“Mr. Hattley, myself, and Mrs. Mecca asked to fill out a narrative about the six measures. We did that because the context of covid had thrown our instructional things in a loop,” McComb said. “The narratives helped us have some insight on the nominees. We went through everything we know about each teacher, then came together based on the essays and past years of working with these amazing teachers.” 

McComb shared that each of the nominated teachers was great, so after a good forty minutes of deliberation and debate, The administration team decided to recognize Pickelmann.

Due to covid affecting the school year last year, the Imagine schools decided not to award a teacher of the year award because everything was very chaotic. 

“It kind of sucks that we didn’t get to recognize a teacher last year because we had such of a great staff working through the hard times,” McComb said. “It was a missed opportunity for someone to feel valued during those times, so I hope to make that up this year. I am happy that we can reward somebody with this again this year.”

After a teacher is chosen for the award, they create a portfolio that has the narrative essay they had written, some type of lesson plan, and much more just describing who they are in the teacher’s life. The portfolio goes to the teacher of the year selection committee through Imagine Schools. They cut half of the nominees; the people who go to the ‘next round’ could be chosen as regional teachers of the year. 

“Here at Prep, we celebrated the teachers who were in the top three by giving them a check and some fun little knick-knacks like a mug and some pens,” McComb said. “When Pickelmann was selected as the winner, we also got him balloons, and his whole class was congratulating him.”

McComb plans on keeping this award at the school and hopes it never dies down. He hopes to find a way for students to be involved in the voting process of selecting a teacher.

“I like that once you get this award, no one can take it away from you,” McComb said. “It’s cool to be recognized for what you are passionate about. It means something to be one of forty teachers that has a big impact on the students and the school.”

Although there are many positive sides to this award, there are also a few opposing sides. McComb had mentioned that it’s the fact that the schools can’t recognize more teachers at once. He hopes that maybe over time, every teacher at the sch
ool will be recognized for the hard work and dedication they have put toward the school and their students. 

Pickelmann, who teaches high school history, shared his views about the award and how he overall feelings about being recognized for the hard work for this school.

I was pretty shocked when I found out I was one of the finalists for Teacher of the Year. But I was also extremely grateful to be recognized,” Pickelmann said. “Mr. McComb, Mr. Hattley, and Mrs. Mecca all came to my ECAP class to surprise me with balloons and a card. I was shocked but filled with a ton of joy and appreciation for the recognition. It was also very cool to be able to share that experience with my class, who all cheered when it was announced.” 

Pickelmann mentioned the narrative essay and the specific requirements for them to be correct and complete.

“The essay we had to complete was something that Imagine Schools has everyone fill out,” Pickelmann said. “It is a narrative about how I impact Imagines’ “6 Measures of Excellence” which includes Academic Growth, Economic Sustainability, Parent Choice, Shared Values, Character Development, and School Development.”

Pickelmann stated that he had a pretty good chance at winning after making it one of the top three finalists. He knew that the other finalists were very well deserving of the award, but since he had taught here at Prep for eight years had helped his chances of winning.

“Mr. Wade and Mrs. Baker are so incredibly deserving as finalists that I would have understood if they had chosen one of them instead. They both are incredible teachers and do awesome things for our campus,” Pickelmann said. “Honestly, I truly feel that everyone on our campus is doing great things to help our students and contribute to our school culture. So I think you could choose anyone and find reasons that they are deserving to be recognized.” 

Pickelmann claimed that he is finishing up the many steps of the nomination form that he needs to submit to Imagine.

 “I’d like to thank all the staff members that voted for me to get me nominated; it’s really special as a teacher to receive that kind of recognition from your colleagues,” Pickelmann said. “I’d also like to give a special shout-out to my family who has supported me all these years! Thank you!”

The teacher of the year award can significantly impact a teacher. This award allows teachers to feel acknowledged and recognized for their hard work. This award has brought many smiles to many people’s faces and will forever be remembered, especially by the winners.