MEA member Luke Wilcox struggled after his parents divorced when he was in fourth grade. Living with his single mom, Wilcox received free and reduced lunches through his years at Northville High School.
It was public school teachers who pushed him to reach his potential, helping him rise to become valedictorian of his graduating class, he says. Now Wilcox is that teacher—and for his work inspiring students and staff as a math teacher at East Kentwood High School, Wilcox was named Michigan’s 2017-18 Teacher of the Year.
Wilcox has worked for 15 years at the 1,800-student Grand Rapids-area school, where 56 percent of students are low-income and 60 percent are minorities.
“He expects a lot, but he gives so much back,” said senior Amari Brown, a student in his AP Statistics class. “He cares about students on a one-on-one basis, which makes a huge difference. He turns students around. I know I can’t let him down, because he’s put so much trust in me.”
Wilcox is also praised for his leadership. Last school year he started a Rising Teacher Leaders group comprised of all the newly hired educators. A second cohort was added this year. In addition, he organized teachers to be their own providers of quality professional development at staff workshops.
His philosophy of teaching is simple: “I always love my content; I’m a math teacher. But I think what is far more important is to help students prepare to be successful in life and to reach their potential, and we may just use the context of mathematics as a way to teach students the skills and abilities that they need to create goals, go after those goals, and reach for those goals.”
Read more at www.tinyurl.com/MITOYWilcox.