Canton Charter Academy’s Vanessa Robert honored at the Capitol as a Michigan Regional Teacher of the Year

Buddy Moorehouse
Jun 7, 2023 11:37:29 AM

With all of her students and dozens of parents from her school looking on, kindergarten teacher Vanessa Robert from Canton Charter Academy was honored during the 2023 Charter Day at the Capitol for being one of the best teachers in the state.

Vanessa was honored earlier this spring by being named a Michigan Regional Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education – only the third time in history that a charter school teacher has received that prestigious honor. Vanessa was named the Regional Teacher of the Year in Region 9, the state’s largest and most competitive region (it includes all of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties outside of the City of Detroit).

It was an overwhelming moment for Vanessa as she was introduced by MAPSA President Dan Quisenberry and given a tribute by State Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton) during the Capitol Steps program during Charter Day at the Capitol.

Every one of her students from Canton Charter Academy made the trip to Lansing for the occasion, as did all of the other kindergartners from the school – more than 90 students in all. Also on hand was Principal Jennifer Conley, other staffers and dozens of parents from the school. All told, more than a Charter Day at the Capitol attendees were on hand to see one of their own honored for her educational excellence.

Representative Puri began the tribute by talking about the importance of education in his own life.

I know for me and my personal story, education unlocked so much social and economic mobility,” he said. “Delivering education to all corners of our state is vital for an important Michigan. I’m honored to be here recognizing my favorite regional teacher of the year, Vanessa Robert, for all the great work she’s doing at Canton Charter Academy.”

In her speech, Vanessa thanked her family, colleagues, administration, parents and students for helping her along the way.

I’m humbled not only by receiving this prestigious award, but also getting to see our kindergartners from CCA sing on the Capitol steps and being in the presence of so many talented students and teachers and staff here today,” Vanessa said. “They say it takes a village to raise a child but it also takes a village to raise a teacher. In my 13 years of teaching, I have learned so much from my students, my colleagues and my administrators. Being the Region 9 teacher of the year is something I do not take lightly. I hope that I can use this platform to help so many educators and students across Michigan.”

Later in the afternoon, as one of the highlights of the day, all 90-plus kindergartners from Canton Charter Academy took to the Capitol steps to perform a concert. Vanessa later said that was the highlight of the day for her.

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Vanessa received her bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University and a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. She has spent her entire 13-year teaching career in the charter sector, first at Quest Charter Academy and for the past four years at Canton Charter Academy.

As the child of parents of two different ethnicities, Chinese and Peruvian, Vanessa grew up as an English Language Learner and a minority. She says this gave her a special perspective and compassion that she is able to use on a daily basis with her students, many of whom also come from English Language Learner homes.

Vanessa is only the third charter school teacher to be named a Michigan Regional Teacher of the Year, following Tan-A Hoffman from the JKL Bahweting Anishnabe School in Sault Ste. Marie in 2020 and Joe Vercellino from Voyageur Academy in 2021.

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