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.”
An advocate for kids, an ambassador for reducing the stigma still associated with mental illness . . . that’s how Lilly Jacobson sees her role in the community these days. And her days are full. A clinical psychologist, formerly affiliated with Children’s Hospital of Michigan and currently in private practice, as well as the Chair of Federation’s Youth Mental Health Initiative, Lilly has made it her goal to educate the community about current mental health issues and to reach young people (and those who love and influence them) with positive messages of self-worth. “We need to talk about depression and anxiety as major health problems among our youth,” she affirms. “Too many of our children are struggling in silence. We Need to Talk – a Federation initiative in partnership with the community – has become our call to action.”
Mother and father. Sister and brother. She. He. They are a family: Richard and Roz Keith – husband and wife, partners in business and proud parents of two young adults, Danielle, an MSU grad and holistic health coach in Boca Raton, FL, and Hunter, now a junior at Eastern Michigan, majoring in psychology. Each in his, her, their way has embraced change in their family roles to become wiser, gentler and smarter about gender identity.