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Kristin VanWyk

Over her 25 years of teaching, Dix Street Kindergarten teacher Kristin VanWyk has also mentored at least 25 aspiring teachers and this year she was recognized as one of the best for it! VanWyk received the Outstanding Mentor Teacher award from Western Michigan University’s Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies Department in the College of Education and Human Development. This award goes to one elementary mentor and one secondary mentor. 

“This award goes to a mentor who serves as an outstanding teacher role model for interns, practices the highest standards of professionalism with colleagues, clearly demonstrates on-going collegiality and meaningful collaboration with WMU faculty and staff and offers positive and constructive guidance and feedback to interns to support their growth as a teaching professional,” said Kerry Hegele at the awards recognition ceremony on Friday, April 26, 2024. 

Honorees are first nominated by faculty then voted on by a group of faculty. “Being recognized as an outstanding mentor is an honor,” VanWyk says. At the recognition event, several people shared a little inspiration to others who were there; she shared to believe in yourself, “I have always been a believer that no one can ever be encouraged and praised too much. This has always been a mission of mine. Being affirmed for believing in others was completely unexpected. The opportunity of being a mentor to future teachers is already an award.”

WMU Alum Macy Smith was one of VanWyk’s interns this school year and shared a few thoughts as well. “During my time in Kristin’s classroom, I grew tremendously as a person and a teacher. Kristin had such a big impact on my life and I am so thankful I was placed in her classroom.”

Hegele shared Kristin’s commitment to her interns, often sending texts after hours reflecting on what they did well that day and providing positive feedback. “This is really what impressed me about Kristin, her ability to create such a supportive and encouraging space for a teacher candidate to learn,” Hegele said. “She guides her interns through the semester in such a way where they have endless opportunities to try new things, create lessons, activities, ideas, etc. all with her support and guidance.”

Mrs. VanWyk holding her award

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