2018-2019 MTLAC Cohort
The Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council (MTLAC) is a group of teacher leaders from each of the ten MASA regions across the state. Membership on the MTLAC is comprised of each year’s Regional Teachers of the Year and chaired by the Michigan Teacher of the Year. Their mission is to share issues of importance to teachers and students with the MDE, while also providing needed input on proposed department policies and initiatives, including the Top 10 in 10 Years Strategic Plan and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan. During their year of service, members provide feedback to the MDE through monthly virtual meetings and quarterly face-to-face meetings, sharing best practices and concerns from educators throughout their respective region with MDE staff. The MTLAC began in 2017 with 24 educators from across Michigan applying directly to the MDE for selection to the advisory council before shifting to its current format in 2018-19 with membership determined through the MTOY program application process.
2018-2019 MTLAC Members
Region 1: Gina Pepin, Escanaba Area Public Schools
Region 2: Kymberli Wregglesworth, Onaway Area Community Schools
Region 3: Wendy Tenney, Lowell Area Schools
Region 4: Jim Goodspeed, Fulton Schools
Region 5: Karen Nicol, Marlette Community Schools
Region 6: Robyne Muray, Lansing School District
Region 7: Laura Chang, Vicksburg Community Schools, Michigan Teacher of the Year
Region 8: Bobbiesue Adams, Fowlerville Community Schools
Region 9: Tom Torrento, Van Dyke Public Schools "Grosse Pointe Public School System"
Region 10: Courtney Valentine, Detroit Public Schools Community District
MTLAC Member Biographies
Gina M. Pepin, Ed.D. is returning to the classroom as a third grade teacher after serving as a K-3 Reading Specialist/Intervention Coordinator for Escanaba Area Public Schools in the Upper Peninsula. She has over 20 years of experience at the K-12 level – and 5 years in higher education. She has taught in a variety of public and private settings. Pepin earned her MS & Post Grad Certificate in Elementary Reading and Literacy in 2007/2018 and Doctorate in Teacher Leadership in 2013 from Walden University.
She is an online adjunct instructor for graduate courses in reading at Grand Canyon University and a contingent adjunct instructor for Northern Michigan University. She serves as a literacy Content Expert on three doctoral committees and is an active member of several organizations, including the Michigan Department of Education’s Early Literacy Assessment Task Team. She has recent publications on Teacher Leadership and Adjunct-Online Instruction.
Pepin chose education as her field of expertise so that she has the opportunity to encourage other learners to become exemplar educators and leaders. She is honored to be a part of this team and is advocating for distributed leadership and positive change. She is confident that the collaborative efforts of the Regional Teachers of the Year will empower other teacher leaders throughout the state.
Kymberli A. Wregglesworth has taught at Onaway High School in the Onaway Area Community Schools, teaching 9th through 12th graders for her entire 20-year teaching career.
Wregglesworth is a part of several educational organizations, including the iCivics Educator Network; Classcraft Ambassador; Michigan Council for the Social Studies (MCSS); National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS); Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL); and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter in the great outdoors of northern Michigan, including hiking, biking, kayaking, and downhill skiing. Wregglesworth also enjoys reading and traveling, including attending a wide variety of "history camps" in the summer to hone her craft. She is excited to have the opportunity to serve for a second year on the Michigan Teacher Leadership Council, and to continue integrating games, technology, and standards-based instruction into her classroom.
Wendy Tenney is the Director of Orchestras for Lowell Area Schools where she teaches three high school orchestras and 6th grade beginning orchestra classes. She has taught music in grades K-12 for fourteen years, all for Lowell Area Schools.
Mrs. Tenney began her music education career teaching cello in Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN while playing in the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony as a high school student. After graduating from Michigan State University, she began teaching in Lowell, MI where she developed the orchestra program from twelve students to nearly four hundred musicians today. The orchestras in Lowell consistently earn top marks at state festival, and the alternative-styles ensembles Lowell Fiddle Club and LHS Fusion Rock Orchestra perform regularly at numerous events around the community.
Mrs. Tenney has a Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Grand Valley State University and is a member of several education and music related organizations. A dedicated believer in celebrating diversity, Mrs. Tenney works to develop a diverse curriculum of styles and cultures in her concert repertoire. She regularly collaborates with nationally renowned composers, conductors and educators to develop her students work as performers, composers and arrangers.
Along with her husband Aaron Tenney, Director of Arts and Music at NorthPointe Christian School, Wendy has three children- Hannah (7), Josiah (5), Isaac (1) and two dogs- Cello, a Bernese Mountain Dog, and Maggie, a Shetland Sheepdog.
Jim Goodspeed has taught English, History, Journalism, Geography, and Reading during his 31 years of teaching at Fulton Schools. Jim is motivated to continually improve his practice and believes that true teachers are called to the profession – they are not made or cloned. He enjoys being tasked with helping the public in their quest for learning.
Jim is a member of the Gratiot County Historical & Genealogical Society, as well as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Jim’s proudest accomplishments as an educator include starting a two-week German Exchange Program and working with veterans for an “Understanding Service Project,” which has received county-wide recognition.
Karen Nicol is in her 28th year of teaching at Marlette Elementary School. She began her career teaching third grade, and has spent the last twenty-five years teaching first grade. In addition to her first-grade teaching assignment, she has been a K-3 curriculum coordinator for the last eight years.
Karen is looking forward to being a voice for teachers across Michigan as she works with the other representatives throughout the state. In addition, she looks forward to her new position beginning in the 2018-2019 school year as Marlette's K-6 Literacy Coach. She sees the position as a great opportunity to not only connect with Marlette students and staff, but to also network with the entire thumb area literacy team.
Ms. Robyne C. Muray is the Region 6 Teacher of the Year. She has been an employee of the Lansing School District for four years in which she teaches 8th grade English, 10th grade American Literature and U.S. History.
Prior to her employment with Lansing, she was a teacher with the Flint Community Schools for fourteen years. During that time, she taught secondary English, Drama, and U.S. History.
In addition to her duties as an educator, she has served as a teacher leader for the State of Michigan. The program was created by a variety of stakeholders that believed an initiative should be created to foster the professional development of new teachers through capstone projects.
Laura Chang is entering her nineteenth year of teaching at Sunset Lake Elementary in the Vicksburg Community Schools where she currently teaches second grade. Previously, she has taught pre-K, first/second grade multiage, third grade and has worked as an instructional consultant at Tobey Elementary. She serves as a mentor coach and district technology integration leader. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in the Special Educational and Literacy Studies department at Western Michigan University. In her free time, Laura enjoys reading, camping, and downhill skiing with her family.
Laura is looking forward to working with the other Regional Michigan Teachers of the Year to share strategies to meet the diverse needs of the learners across the state. She is thrilled to be a part of this dynamic team of teachers who are invested in finding ways to impact the students of Michigan’s public schools in a positive way.
She loves being a teacher because of the precious little learners who walk into her classroom each day. They inspire her daily with their hard work, their perseverance, and their joy for learning. Chang’s students also encourage her with their curiosity, excitement for learning and passion for accomplishing difficult tasks. Chang says she is so blessed to have a job in which every day is different, and is so fortunate to work in the fulfilling, life-changing career of teaching.
Bobbiesue Adams began the year teaching 8th grade at Fowlerville Junior High School, and is now an Assistant Principal and Intervention Specialist at Natalie Kreeger Elementary. She has spent her entire teaching career at Fowlerville Community Schools.
When she is not teaching, Bobbiesue and her family love exploring the beautiful and interesting places in Michigan. She also has a healthy Amazon habit, collecting books and reading about many topics related to education and improving her classroom for her students.
She is incredibly excited this year to have an opportunity to work with some of the most influential people in education. She thinks this experience will be life changing and that the work the MTLAC does together will make a lasting impact on the quality of education for many years to come!
Tom Torrento is a licensed, professional educator and musician who was recently named the Michigan Recipient of School Band & Orchestra Magazine’s 50 Directors Who Make A Difference. Mr. Torrento is currently pursuing his PhD in Music Education from Oakland University where he was awarded a half assistantship allowing him to continue to further his teaching while completing the degree.
Tom earned his Master of Arts Degree in Band Conducting from the American Band College of Sam Houston State University in 2015, and his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Eastern Michigan University in 2012, graduating with honors from both schools. This year, Tom began a new position as director of bands for both Grosse Point North High School and Parcells Middle School with the Gross Pointe Public School System. He previously served as the Director of Instrumental Music and Jazz Studies at Lincoln High School and Middle School in Van Dyke Public Schools.
As director of bands at Lincoln, Tom incorporated the skills and experiences he gained as a touring musician to rebuild the band program while on a strict budget. He raised over $250,000 through the local community and high stakes grant writing to ensure all students who want the chance to thrive in the arts are provided the opportunity regardless of the socio-economic circumstance they were born into. Outside the official classroom, Tom is the current District XVI Secretary for the Michigan Schools Band & Orchestra Association (MSBOA), and is an avid believer in public school equity.
Tom resides in Ferndale, Michigan, with his beautiful wife Jenna, his daughter Charlotte (6), and his sons Collin (3) & Crosby (1), and enjoys performing with local musicians and theatre organizations whenever his busy schedule allows.
Courtney Valentine currently teaches at Pulaski Elementary in Detroit Public Schools Community District, specializing in math and science. At the time she was named a Regional Teacher of the Year, she taught Mathematics in grades 6, 7 and 8 at Detroit International Academy for Young Women where she was recruited to start the middle school program 10 years ago. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Davenport University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Wayne State University. She is a National Board Certified teacher and has a Michigan EX (mathematics) endorsement. She has been teaching in the Detroit Public School system since 2000, the start of her career in education.
Courtney has served on district textbook selection committees and is currently working to develop district curriculum guides. She has also mentored teachers through the MEDeATe program at Wayne State University and is looking forward to mentoring first-year teachers in her new role as a Superintendent’s Fellow Master Teacher.
Outside of her school life, Courtney loves to volunteer in her local community. She also enjoys spending time with her family trying new restaurants, going to the theatre and traveling.