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May 18, 2004
CONTACT: Carol Anderson

EMU alumna named Michigan Teacher of the Year

YPSILANTI — Heidi Capraro, an Eastern Michigan University alumna, has been named 2004-2005 Michigan Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education. The award, which was announced May 10, recognizes excellence in teaching .

Capraro, who has taught for 14 years, is a sixth-grade science teacher at Hillside Middle School in Northville.   She graduated from EMU's College of Education with a bachelor's degree in elementary education (1989) and a master's degree in middle school curriculum (1994).

"There are many wonderful teachers and I am especially delighted when one of our alums is tapped for this honor," said Jerry Robbins, dean, EMU College of Education. Capraro is the third EMU alum in 13 years to win the state teacher of the year award, he said.

The Detroit News published a feature, including photos, which may be accessed here.

The surprise announcement, made at Hillside Middle School, came under the guise of an assembly to discuss the school's code of conduct.

"I bought it hook, line and sinker," Capraro said. "But I was flabbergasted and in shock when the award was announced."

The Michigan Teacher of the Year is someone who is a leader and mentor to other teachers as well as being well-rounded in their topic and able to speak on their feet, she said.

"Heidi has a passion for making a difference in the lives of her students," said Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Watkins, who attended the school presentation. "Her proven skills as a teacher, mentor and creative leader make her the perfect ambassador for the teaching profession in Michigan."

As state teacher of the year, Capraro will work as a liaison for the Michigan Department of Education during the 2004-2005 school year and travel the state on behalf of teachers. She also will meet with policymakers, parents, educators and students and report her findings to the state board of education.

"This position has quite a few dynamic possibilities for me," said Capraro, who is now eligible for the National Teacher of the Year Award.

The Howell resident credits her father, a high-school chemistry teacher, with steering her toward education and EMU geography professor, Carl Ojala, for instilling her with a love of teaching.  

Capraro is president-elect of the National Middle Level Science Teachers Association and a member of the Michigan Science Teachers Association and the Metropolitan Detroit Science Teachers Association.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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