It’s 3 a.m. in the morning and Michelle Berman is still at her desk wrapping up another “long, hard week’s work” in the classroom created in the basement of her Orchard Lake home. An elementary school teacher in the community of essential workers we count on for the safety, wellbeing and education of our children, Michelle works with a team of five third-grade teachers at Lakers Online, the fully remote school of the West Bloomfield School District that opened in September as a full curriculum option. The school now serves more than 1,400 K-12 students across Oakland County. With 25 years of experience teaching K-3 in West Bloomfield, Michelle is well prepared to handle most curves thrown at her. But this? Who’d imagine this school year? Ever the optimist, drawing from a remarkable reserve of energy, experience and strength, Michelle remains philosophical, “COVID has tested us at every step of our journey and it can feel overwhelming day to day, but you have to think of this period of time as one of extraordinary change in our lives - an opportunity to learn and grow together - all for the better.”
What’s in a title? For Randy Gawel - new Director of General Studies at Frankel Jewish Academy (FJA) - it was not the office, but the community of the school with all its opportunities open to students that influenced him to join the staff this year. It was a decision not easily made after eight fulfilling years as Principal of Berkley High School. But Randy and his wife, Leah, both Frankel parents themselves, can attest that his move to FJA was the right step in an academic career where he has always thrived; a natural leader, a gifted educator, warm and welcoming to all, and ever focused on the well-being of students.
What does Erin Stiebel do? More like, what doesn’t she do? You’re looking at a Partners Detroit Young Professionals Educator, NEXTGen Detroit Board member, Director of NCSY’s GIVE, Great BIG Challah Bake MC, Wexner Graduate Fellow, matchmaker, one of the Jewish News’ 36 Under 36 and mom to three under five. Phew, we’re exhausted just reading that.