A theater arts educator at Washtenaw Technical Middle College in Ann Arbor was named DTE Energy Foundation’s Educator of the Year — an annual award that “recognizes and celebrates educators who value the importance of arts education and create a culture for the arts to flourish in their school communities.”
Emily Zdyrko was selected as the 2022 winner for her work on improving the school’s already-strong performance-based study of drama in the English classroom, along with her creation of the WTMC writing club, an inclusive student-led writing group that produces an annual anthology of original student work and has become a refuge for at-risk students at the school.
“The DTE Energy Foundation is proud to support the University Musical Society (UMS) and to honor Emily Zdyrko as the 2022 DTE Energy Foundation Educator of the Year,” Lynette Dowler, the President of the DTE Energy Foundation, said in a press release.
“Her commitment to the WTMC Writing Club — including making sure that students had an outlet during the pandemic, when social connections were particularly important and also rare — shows her incredible dedication to her students above and beyond teaching English.”
As the winner, Zdyrko, who was identified as a candidate for the award through a public nomination, will receive a $250 award honorarium, and either a class visit from a UMS artist or an opportunity to meet with an artist at a UMS Day school performance next season.
“Each year, we’re inspired by the nominations for so many creative, resourceful, and committed teachers who are making a difference in their students’ lives by incorporating the arts into their instructional practice,” Cayenne Harris, the UMS Vice President for Learning and Engagement, said in a press release.
“Emily Zdyrko stood out to us this year for her efforts to use the arts to create an inclusive environment for her students while giving them a creative outlet. We’re excited to see how her program evolves over the coming years.”