ROGERS CITY - This year's Rogers City Teacher of the Year uses modern technology to teach the history of the world and the United States.
Melissa Wozniak teaches social studies at Rogers City High School. Excluding a brief stint at Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, Wozniak has spent her entire teaching career with Rogers City Area Schools, she said. Since August 1997, she's taught history and biological sciences classes.
"I'm honored to be considered the teacher of the year, but there are just so many great teachers, especially here in northern Michigan," she said.
Superintendent Kathleen Makowski said the recognition of Wozniak's efforts is well-deserved.
"Ms. Wozniak makes use of multiple resources and tools to reach all learners in her classroom; that takes time and innovation," she said.
In 2013, Wozniak will be presenting at the Michigan Association of Computer Users and Learners Conference in Detroit, Makowski said. Her topic will be "Using Social Media in Social Studies Classrooms."
"This is a great acknowledgment of her creative use of media in the classroom," she said.
Wozniak was nominated by Chad Coolman, a fellow teacher for middle schoolers and high schoolers. He's the recipient of the 2010 Rogers City Teacher of the Year award.
"To be honored by one of my colleagues ... it's an amazing feeling," she said.
After graduating from Posen High in 1991, Wozniak attended Saginaw Valley State University and graduated in 1996.
Aside from her teaching duties, Wozniak also serves as one of 13 representatives on the Michigan Council of the Social Studies executive board, a statewide affiliate focused on professional development for teachers of this topic.
When Wozniak found out from Makowski that she'd been picked for the award, her students were in the middle of Classroom Olympics.
"They cheered and I said, 'All right you guys, we have a relay race to complete, let's go,'" she said.
Classroom Olympics involves students in a series of competitions like a cotton ball relay race, a straw javelin toss and other competitions, she said. Competitors are divided up into teams named after the ancient civilization's city-states, like Athens and Korinthos.
"I find that after we learn about a certain time period or event in history, sometimes it's nice to bring one aspect of it kind of to reality," she said. "Since we're not going to have a decathlon or butterfly backstroke, I came up with events we can do inside the classroom."
These activities build teamwork and problem-solving skills with her students, as well as adding a hands-on component to history lessons, Wozniak said. This is especially useful for learning about ancient times like the Byzantine Empire and other eras that are harder to reinforce with documentaries or other media.
"It's a way to culminate the activity by putting it into real-time perspective with things that (students) can relate to," she said.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.