FOLLOWING A SPECIAL OPS RECEPTION honoring four public education professionals on Monday afternoon, a group gathered in an atrium at the Owosso High/Middle School campus to show support and offer congratulations. The honorees included Karen Michalec, Amy Parsons, Brena Irelan and Heidi Lorigan, shown with friends, family, school staff members and administrators.
The Owosso Public Schools Foundation with Matt Van Epps, president, hosted the reception. The OPS Foundation, established in 2007, works in securing grant funding for the district, providing “world-class opportunities for students.”
Superintendent Dr. Andrea Tuttle (far right) expressed how pleased she was to finally be able to pay tribute to the four individuals and acknowledge their impressive contributions to the district.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
A reception to honor the 2019-2020 teacher and staff member of the year and also the 2020-2021 teacher and staff member of the year was held in the student union (formerly the library) of the Owosso High/Middle School campus on North Street on Monday afternoon, Sept. 27. A group of honorees, supported by family, friends, co-workers and school administrators gathered to pay tribute to four dedicated professionals. The reception had been delayed because of the pandemic, but the commemorative event was still greeted with much enthusiasm – and numerous kind words.
Karen Michalec, the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year, began her career with the district in 1994. Michalec has worked in many capacities for Owosso, beginning as an elementary teacher at Bentley, followed by becoming a literacy coach at Emerson and moving into at-risk and social studies at the middle school. Having been at the middle school since 2008, she is the OMS Social Studies Dept. Chair, district mentor coordinator, Red Cedar Volleyball coordinator/coach, literacy coach, OHS Career and Tech. Education Content Instructor, mentor and member of the district’s Instructional Leadership Council. Taking on a variety of responsibilities, Michalec was also part of the group of organizers who helped pass the school bond in 2017. She is described as a “leader” with “lifelong passion for education.” Michalec lives in Owosso with her husband, John. They have two adult children.
The 2019-2020 Staff Member of the Year recognition went to Amy Parsons. Parsons began her career in Owosso in the administration office in 2004. She moved on to Lincoln High School in August 2005, becoming the executive secretary at the school in November 2005. She is described as “an exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled member of the Owosso Public Schools’ team and was the first impression for all Lincoln High School students, staff members and visitors.” Parsons lives in Owosso with her husband, Gary and two children.
Brena Irelan, the 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year, started with the district in 1999 as a special education teacher. She has taught at Owosso High School and Central Elementary over the years. Ireland has developed classes designed to support special education students and their ability to access the general education curriculum, especially in science. Currently, Irelan serves on the Owosso Band Booster Board as the uniform chair, also assisting with fundraising. She has been involved with the school district in numerous areas. Irelan is described as “humble beyond measure, the first person to volunteer and a voice for education at the local and state level.” She lives in Owosso with her husband, Steve and they have three children.
Heidi Lorigan, the 2020-2021 Staff Member of the Year, began with Owosso in 2010 at Bentley Bright Beginnings Early Childhood Center. Lorigan coordinates school visitors, volunteers to assist with the school’s landscaping and is a respected mentor for all staff in her building. She advocates for the youngest learners, ensuring they receive everything needed to be successful learners and individuals. She is said to “inspire her students to embrace others with kindness and pursue the things they love.” Lorigan lives in Owosso with her husband, Daniel and son.