School leader from Holland, math teacher from Taylor named Michigan’s top charter school educators

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A math teacher from Taylor and a school leader from Holland were named Michigan’s top charter school educators in surprise assemblies at their schools on Monday.

Ronald Brown, a math teacher at Taylor Preparatory High School, was named the 2016 Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year, while Shannon Brunink, the Head of School at Black River Public School in Holland, was named the 2016 Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year. The awards were presented during National Charter Schools Week by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), the state charter school association.

The awards are among the top honors a charter school educator in Michigan can receive.

“Michigan’s charter schools are home to some of the most talented, innovative and dedicated educators in the country,” said MAPSA President Dan Quisenberry. “Shannon Brunink is an exceptional school leader and Ronald Brown is an amazing teacher, and we’re thrilled that we were able to honor and recognize them with these awards.”

Brunink has been with Black River Public School since the school was founded nearly 20 years ago. After starting the school’s music program and serving as its band director, he was named the Head of School in 2008. Under Brunink’s leadership, Black River (a K-12 school with about 950 students) has become one of the top-performing schools in the state. In 2011, it was named the No. 1 high school in Michigan by the Washington Post. This year, both US News and World Report and the Washington Post named Black River among the top 15 high schools in the state.

“Black River is one of the best schools you’ll find when it comes to preparing students for college and success in life, and that’s because of the culture of excellence that Shannon has created at the school,” Quisenberry said. “By any measure, he’s an extraordinary administrator. Shannon and Black River have shown what can be accomplished in education when you bring innovation and accountability together. He’s an excellent choice for the Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year award.”

Ronald Brown has been teaching math at Taylor Prep since the school opened in 2013. His students have experienced exceptional growth at Taylor Prep – an average of 600 percent in one year. Brown was cited by the judges for his creativity in reaching his students, and Taylor Prep Principal Aquan Miles also noted his work ethic: Brown has never called in sick or missed a day of work, ever.

“If you’re a student in Ron Brown’s classroom, you’re going to gain at least an additional two years of learning for every year you’re there,” Quisenberry said. “That’s exceptional. He makes math engaging and even fun for his students, and the results speak for themselves. He’s one of the best teachers you’ll find anywhere.”

Both Black River Public School and Taylor Preparatory High School are authorized by Grand Valley State University, and officials from GVSU were on hand with special gifts at each ceremony.

Last month, the five finalists for each award were named, and MAPSA honored the finalists with a luncheon and ceremony at the State Capitol in Lansing last week. The educators also had an opportunity to meet with legislators.

The other finalists for the Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year award were Lisa Bergman from Renaissance Public School Academy in Mt. Pleasant; Scott Morgan from West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science in Grand Rapids; Brandon Slone from Dove Academy in Detroit; and Karen Smith from Conner Creek Academy East in Roseville.

The other finalists for the Michigan  Charter School Teacher of the Year award were Jackie Botsford of Greater Heights Academy in Flint; Lyndsay Grasman of Kensington Woods Schools in Pinckney; Rachel McKenna of West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science in Grand Rapids; and Meagan Scott of American Montessori Academy in Livonia.

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