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Teacher named to state program

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Bob Thomson

ALPENA — Thunder Bay Junior High School teacher Bob Thomson was recently named to Michigan Department of Education’s Innovative Educator Corps.

The program recognizes educators who utilize an innovative educational program, methodology, or strategy to help prepare their students for future career success in high-demand fields. Thomson was one of 10 educators announced in July.

“I was excited, because it’s highly competitive,” Thomson said. “I felt pretty confident and was relieved when I heard.”

Thomson received a $5,000 stipend in recognition of his work and another $5,000 that will be used in partnership with the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District to expand, replicate, and share innovative practices with other Michigan educators.

In the nomination process, Thomson had to provide documentation of student academic achievements and share how successful his innovative project is and how it’s prepared students for 21st century careers.

Thomson’s effort, the Thunder Bay River Watershed Project, has been in place since the 2008-09 school year. Through the program, students collect data on the Thunder Bay River and complete different research projects, including using underwater robots to collect data on shipwrecks in Lake Huron and Thunder Bay River.

“I’ll be able to keep growing the program and network with other teachers,” Thomson said of the new honor. “It’s exciting to work in more stewardship and spring other projects and allowing this project to continue for years.”

Alpena Public Schools Superintendent John VanWagoner said during Monday’s Board of Education meeting that a narrow few are selected to the corps, so the district is proud of Thomson.

“Bob does a lot of innovative things that he’s done with our underwater ROV program and does a lot of different things with species in his classes,” VanWagoner said. “We’re excited to see it expand and all our kids to choose those options at the junior high and be able to have those experiences. It’s a great honor, and we’re very thankful for the work that Bob does.”

Thomson was previously a teacher at Ella White Elementary School and has moved to the junior high for the 2019-20 school year.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.